Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)

If you have been assessed as ‘lacking capacity’ to make specific decisions about yourself, particularly your care or long term accommodation, you could get support from an IMCA.

This page gives information about who can get support from an IMCA, who can act as an ‘appropriate adult’ and what that means. It also provides information about DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards), the role of an IMCA and how it differs from other advocacy roles.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy was introduced as part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This gives people who have an impairment, injury or a disability which results in them being unable to make a specific decision for themselves, the right to receive independent support and representation.

Your local council, or the NHS decision maker MUST refer you if you have no ‘appropriate’ family and friends who can be consulted and you have been assessed as lacking the capacity to make a decision about:

  • Any serious medical treatments
  • A move to a hospital that would be for more than 28 days
  • A move to a care home that would be for more than 8 weeks
  • Your safety or care which is likely to result in you being deprived of your liberty

In addition, your local council, or the NHS decision maker MAY refer you if you lack capacity to make a decision about either:

  • A Care review (if you have no ‘appropriate’ family and friends)
  • A Safeguarding referral (whether you are the victim or alleged perpetrator, regardless of whether you have family and friends)

Role of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate

advocacy parter signalling where they want to liveAn IMCA is there to:

  • Find out about your views, wishes and feelings about the decision. This can be by talking to you and the people you are close to and it may involve talking to professionals who care for you.
  • Communicate your views, wishes and feelings to decision makers.
  • Provide information to you and to the decision makers to help work out what is in your best interests.

IMCAs will check whether decision makers are:

  • applying the principles of the Mental Capacity Act;
  • acting in the person’s best interest;
  • choosing the least restrictive option for the person.

An IMCA can challenge decisions made by the decision maker, including the capacity assessment itself. 

IMCAs will be allowed to meet with you in private and can ask to see all relevant health, social services and care home records.

All VoiceAbility IMCAs have specialist skills in working with people who are unable to communicate or find it very hard to express themselves. IMCAs also have specialist knowledge of Mental Capacity Act and other interrelated laws, codes and practices.

There was consistent excellent practice across all the sites of the provision of IMCA services. IMCAs themselves showed a sensitivity and skill in how they carry out their work.

Quality Performance Mark - In regards to Responsive IMCA services