Mental Capacity Act and DoLS

Mental Capacity Act and DoLS

The Mental Capacity Act is a law about making decisions and what to do when people cannot make some decisions for themselves. The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Mental Capacity Act 2005


Every day we make decisions about our lives. These decisions could be about simple things like what we eat or what we wear. They could also be about more major things like our health, our care and our finances.  Our ability to make decisions is called mental capacity.  Some people lack capacity and are unable to make some decisions for themselves, for example, people with dementia, learning disabilities or mental health problems.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) was fully implemented in England and Wales in October 2007 and provides a statutory framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity.  The MCA defines who can take decisions in which situations, and how they should go about this. Anyone who works with or cares for an adult who lacks capacity must comply with the MCA when making decisions or acting for that person.  Many people with similar mental disorder may nevertheless be able to make decisions for themselves and the MCA also gives guidance about how they may need to be assisted and their decisions respected. 

This applies whether decisions are life changing events or more every day matters and is relevant to adults of any age, regardless of when they lost capacity.

 The five key principles in the Act are:

  1. Every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions and must be assumed to have capacity to make them unless it is proved otherwise.
  2. A person must be given all practicable help before anyone treats them as not being able to make their own decisions.
  3. Just because an individual makes what might be seen as an unwise decision, they should not be treated as lacking capacity to make that decision.
  4. Anything done or any decision made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done in their best interests.
  5. Anything done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity should be the least restrictive of their basic rights and freedoms.


Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice


The Code of Practice supports the MCA and provides guidance to all those who care for and/or make decisions on behalf of adults who lack capacity. The Code includes case studies and clearly explains in more detail the key features of the MCA.


Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards – DoLS


The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are a part of the Mental Capacity Act.  These arrangements provide protection for vulnerable people who are accommodated in hospitals or care homes in circumstances that amount to a deprivation of their liberty and who lack the capacity to consent to the care and support they need.


A deprivation of liberty may occur if a hospital patient or a care home resident faces significant restrictions, a high level of supervision or staff have to promote their welfare and safety by making many choices for them and controlling the environment they live in.


When a person lacks the mental capacity to make decisions about the care or treatment they need, and may be at risk if that care is not provided, it is sometimes in their best interests to deprive them of their liberty. The aim of this is to prevent them from coming to harm. The DoLS exist to ensure that no one is deprived of their liberty without good reason, and that if someone needs to be deprived of their liberty in these circumstances, that person still has specific rights.


The number of applications under the DoLS scheme has increased significantly since a decision made in the Supreme Court in March 2015 confirmed the circumstances in which support and care may amount to a deprivation of liberty.


The government has asked the Law Commission to consider changes to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.


For more information on the MCA or DoLS in Cwm Taf please contact:

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Coordinator
Ty Elai, Dinas Isaf East, Williamstown, Rhondda
Telephone: 01443 425410

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