[Skip to content]

Our values: Care with compassion, Respect and dignity, Striving to excel, Professional standards, Working together
Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

Mental Capacity Act (MCA) - Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DOLS)

Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment (ADRT) - have you made an advance decision to refuse treatment, if so please can you complete our online form.

What are the MCA DOLS?

The MCA DOLS which come into force in England on 1 April 2009 provide a legal framework to prevent unlawful deprivation of liberty occurring. They protect vulnerable people in a hospital or care homes that lack the capacity to consent to the arrangements made for their care/treatment but who need to be deprived of their liberty in their best interest to protect them from harm.


It is important to understand that MCA DOLS are not about detention or compulsory treatment under Mental Health Act 1983. The 1983 Act is primarily about people who are diagnosed as having a mental health problem and who need to be detained and treated for their own well-being or to protect other people.

What changes do the MCA DOLS introduce?

Contact Details

Safeguarding Manager

Darent Valley Hospital

Darenth Wood Road


Kent DA2 8DA

01322  428865

The MCA DOLS make it lawful for a person to be deprived of their liberty, based on a rigorous, standardised assessment and authorisation process.

Under MCA DOLS hospitals and care homes must apply to their PCT (Supervisory Body) or Local Authority (Managing Authority) for a Deprivation of Liberty ‘Authorisation’ if they believe they can only provide adequate care for a person in circumstances that amount to a deprivation of liberty.


The MCA DOLS were introduced to ensure that deprivation of liberty can only take place when it is in the best interests of the person concerned and when it is authorised by a supervisory body. The MCA DOLS also give legal protection to the relevant person, including the right to:

  • An independent representative to act on their behalf
  • The support of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA). The role of the IMCA is to help represent the relevant person and their representative understand the effect of the authorisation, what it means, why it has been given, why the relevant person meets the criteria for authorisation, how long it will last, any conditions to which the authorisation is subject and how to trigger a review or challenge in the Court of Protection
  • Have their deprivation of liberty reviewed and monitored on a regular basis
  • Challenge their deprivation of liberty in the Court of Protection.


Source OPG607 DH and Office of Public Guardian 2009

There are two kinds of authorisations: standard authorisations and urgent authorisations:

  • Standard Authorisations - Managing authorities should apply for a standard authorisation before a deprivation of liberty occurs – for example when a new care plan is agreed that would mean depriving a person of their liberty.
  • Urgent Authorisations – can be made by managing authorities themselves – such as where a standard authorisation has been applied for, but not yet granted, and the need to deprive a person of their liberty is now urgent. Urgent authorisations can never be made without a simultaneous application for a standard authorisation to the supervisory body.

Applying for Standard Authorisations

An application for an authorisation must be made to the supervisory body. The supervisory body will then begin the assessment process which must be completed within 21 days.

A managing authority cannot apply for a standard authorisation more than 28 days before a deprivation of liberty is due to take place.

Applying for Urgent Authorisations

Any decision to issue an urgent authorisation must be taken in the best interests of the patient in accordance with section 4 of the MCA. Where restraint is involved, the decision must comply with section 6 of the MCA.


Urgent authorisations last for a maximum of seven calendar days. During that period, the necessary assessment process must be completed. Also, the managing authority must request a standard authorisation if it has not already done so.


In exceptional circumstances, an urgent authorisation can be extended by a supervisory body for an additional seven calendar days. The managing authority must inform the supervisory body when an extension is needed and only one such extension can be granted.

The Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service

Important: Change of contact details for the Kent & Medway Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) Service.


From 1st April 2009 the new contact details for the Kent & Medway IMCA Service will be:

Ground Floor
7 Vale Avenue
Tunbridge Wells
Tel. no. 01892 543870
Fax no. 01892 548057
e-mail: kent.imca@seap.org.uk