The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty (MCA DOL) safeguards aims to protect people who cannot make decisions for themselves due to a learning disability or a mental health condition, for example Alzheimer’s disease, or for any other reason. It provides clear guidelines for carers and professionals about who can take decisions in which situations.
The MCA DOL safeguards were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act 2005 through the Mental Health Act 2007.
The MCA DOL safeguards apply to anyone aged 18 and over who:
- suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind – such as dementia or a profound learning disability
- lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care or treatment
- deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the ECHR) is considered after an independent assessment to be necessary in their best interests to protect them from harm
The safeguards cover patients in hospitals, and people in care homes registered under the Care Standards Act 2000, whether placed under public or private arrangements.
The safeguards are designed to protect the interests of an extremely vulnerable group of service users and to:
- ensure people can be given the care they need in the least restrictive regimes
- prevent arbitrary decisions that deprive vulnerable people of their liberty
- provide safeguards for vulnerable people
- provide them with rights of challenge against unlawful detention
- avoid unnecessary bureaucracy
This guidance for primary care trusts, local authorities, hospitals and care homes will support health and social care providers understand and fulfil their statutory obligations under the Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DOLS).