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The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects those, aged 16 and over, who may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. These people include those who may have suffered head injuries or stroke, as well as people with dementia, learning disabilities, or mental health problems.

It also protects people who lack capacity and are deprived of their liberty by hospitals or registered care homes – deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS).

In Portsmouth two supervisory bodies – Portsmouth City Council and Portsmouth City Teaching PCT (NHS) – assess, authorise, monitor and review the deprivation of liberty of Portsmouth residents.

Who needs to know about the Mental Capacity Act and deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS)?

Anyone who comes into contact with people who may lack capacity need to be aware of the Act, including carers, health workers, social care staff and the families of people who may lack capacity.

If you work in a registered care home or hospital (a managing authority) you will need to have a thorough understanding of the deprivation of liberty safeguards and the actions you should take if it is likely that you will need to deprive someone of their liberty.

The local procedure for managing authorities for urgent authorisations is available to download below.

The Government has also produced Mental Capacity Act guidelines.

Support for someone being deprived of their liberty by a registered care home or hospital without authority

Every individual who is deprived of their liberty is allocated a representative (usually a family member or friend). For people without family or friends to support and look after their interests, there is an Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy Service in Portsmouth provided by SEAP – South of England Advocacy Projects. Representatives can access the advocacy service for support.

The first thing to do if you think someone is being deprived of their liberty without an authorisation is to contact the care home or hospital. You need to let them know who you are, your relationship or interest in the person and why you think they may be being deprived of their liberty. The matter may be able to be resolved informally, for example the managing authority may be able to adjust their care regime. If not, you should ask them to apply for an authorisation.

If you wish, use a standard letter to support your case. Although a letter is not mandatory, reading through this letter will help you understand what you need to say.

If the care home or hospital does not take action within a reasonable period (the government code of practice recommends 24 hours), you can ask the Portsmouth supervisory body to decide whether an unauthorised deprivation of liberty is taking place. Again, we can provide a standard letter to support this process and detail the information you need to provide. The supervisory body will assess the situation and let you know any action that will be taken.

For all local enquiries and to return the forms by managing authorities, email, phone 02392 688 666 or visit The Safeguarding Team at Portsmouth DoLS Office in the City Council Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, PO1 2EP.