Independent Mental Capacity Advocate

The IMCA service is an independent safeguard for vulnerable people aged 16 years old and above who have been deemed to lack capacity to make certain important decisions and who have no family or friends, other than paid care workers, with whom it would be appropriate to consult about these decisions.

What is the role of an IMCA?

  • to safeguard the rights of people who lack capacity to make a specific decision
  • to find out about the person's feelings, wishes and beliefs, as far as possible
  • to remain independent of the decision maker and the responsible body
  • has a statutory right to inspect the person's records that are relevant to the decision
  • must make a report to the decision maker about their findings
  • Can challenge the decision made

In carrying out their role, an IMCA has a right to:

  • meet with the person, who lacks capacity, in private
  • examine and have copies of any records that are relevant to the decision being made

When should an IMCA be involved?

An IMCA must be involved where a person with no friends/family lacks capacity to make a particular decision themselves about:

  • serious medical treatment
  • a change of accommodation

An IMCA may be involved:

where it is felt the person would benefit from an independent mental capacity advocacy in:

  • adult safeguarding proceedings
  • care reviews

An IMCA may also be involved in deprivation of liberty situations - there are a number of circumstances when the IMCA must act for the person at the centre of the decision making process.

An IMCA can't be involved when:

  • the person has capacity to make the decision themselves
  • the person who lacks capacity has previously named a person that should be consulted about decisions that affect them and that person is willing to help
  • the person that lacks capacity has a court appointed deputy or attorney
  • it is an emergency situation
  • there is conflict or disagreement between families and services
  • an IMCA does not assess capacity regarding the decision to be made

The IMCA is not the decision maker at any time.

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