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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard glossary

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) introduces a range of new terms.

The most commonly used terms and definitions are below. For a full glossary please see the DoLS code of practice.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) - explanation of terms used

Term used

What does it mean?

Managing Authority (MA)

Responsible for applying for authorisation for any person who comes within the scope of DoLS. In the case of a care home or a private hospital, the MA will be the person registered, or required to be registered, under part 2 of the Care Standards Act 2000, on behalf of the hospital or care home.

Supervisory body

Responsible for considering requests for authorisations, commissioning the required assessments and, where all the assessments agree, authorising the deprivation of liberty. The supervisory body for care homes is normally the local authority where the relevant person is ordinarily resident (i.e. where they lived prior to residential care or hospitalisation), or the organisation who commissions the placement (i.e. the Primary Care Trust for Continuing Healthcare).

Best Interest Assessor (BIA)

A person who carries out a DoLS assessment. This can be an approved mental health professional, a social worker, a state registered occupational therapist or a registered nurse who has undertaken the prescribed Mental Capacity Act training. The BIA must be independent of the admissions and care planning process.

Mental Health Assessor (MHA)

A registered medical practitioner with at least 3 years’ post-registration experience in the diagnosis or treatment of mental disorders, such as a GP with a special interest or a registered medical practitioner who is approved under section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This includes doctors who are automatically treated as being section 12 approved because they are approved clinicians under the Mental Health Act 1983. A Section 12 approved the doctor must have undertaken the Mental Capacity Act training. The preference will always be for a medical practitioner who is familiar with the relevant person.

Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP)

A social worker or other professional approved by the local social services authority to act on their behalf in carrying out a variety of functions.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)

Someone who provides support and representation for a person who lacks capacity to make specific decisions, where the person has no one else to support them. The IMCA service was established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and is not the same as an ordinary advocacy service.

Relevant person

A person who is, or may become, deprived of their liberty in a hospital or care home.

No refusal assessment

An assessment of whether there is any other existing authority for decision making for the relevant person that would prevent giving authorisation. This might include any valid advance decision, or valid decision by a deputy or donee appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Mental capacity assessment

An assessment as to whether a person lacks capacity. This relates to whether or not they should be accommodated in the relevant hospital or care home to receive care or treatment.

Best interest assessment

An assessment, prepared by the appointed BIA, of whether deprivation of liberty is in the detained person’s best interests, is necessary to prevent harm to the person and is a response in proportion to the likelihood and seriousness of that harm.

Eligibility assessment

An assessment as to whether or not a person is rendered ineligible for a standard deprivation of liberty authorisation. This is if the authorisation would conflict with requirements that are, or could be, placed on the person under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Mental health assessment

An assessment of whether a person has a mental disorder.

Relevant person representative

A person, independent of the relevant hospital or care home and the relevant supervisory body, appointed to stay in contact with the relevant person, and to represent and support that person in all matters relating to DoLS.

Contact information

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