An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) is a trained and experienced advocate who can be instructed when an individual is deemed to lack capacity to make certain significant decisions, and at such time has no ‘appropriate’ family or friends to support them.
• The IMCA service is a safeguard under the Mental Capacity Act
• An IMCA is independent of the decision maker.
The IMCA role is there to support and represent the person during the decision-making process, making sure that the Mental Capacity Act is being used correctly. An IMCA may formally challenge the decision-making process.
When should an IMCA be involved?
An IMCA must be involved if there are no ’appropriate’ family or friends to consult where the person is deemed to lack capacity to make the decision about:
1. The giving, withholding or withdrawal of serious medical treatment
2. A proposed move into nursing or residential care for longer than a period of eight weeks, or a move into a hospital for more than 28 days
3 Any change of residence
4. IMCAs must be instructed for people who are being assessed as to whether they are currently being, or should be, deprived of their liberty where there is no-one ‘appropriate to consult’.
IMCA’s may be instructed ( as a discretionary part of the act) on behalf of a person lacking capacity in relation to:
1. Care Review
2. Safeguarding referrals (irrespective of family or friend involvement)
3. Accommodation (This needs to be deleted as is a statutory duty)
4. Serious Medical Issue. (This needs to be deleted as is a statutory duty)
What is an IMCA?
An IMCA will:
1. Try to support and represent the person lacking capacity, presenting their views and interests to the decision maker.
2. Seek the views of professionals involved and review relevant social and medical records.
3. Review the decision in line with the Mental Capacity Act and its associated Codes of Practice.
4. Prepare a report that must be taken into account by the decision maker.
An IMCA does not:
1. Assess a person’s capacity
2. Make the decision
3. Decide who is ‘appropriate’ to consult
4. Provide on–going advocacy support.
The decision-maker must decide if a person meets the criteria for referral to an IMCA following guidance in the Code of Practice.
The decision-maker will be a professional who will ultimately action the decision.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
The IMCA service is a safeguard under the Mental Capacity Act for people deemed to lack the capacity to make specific important decisions. The IMCA role supports and represents the person during the decision-making process, making sure that the Mental Capacity Act is correctly used. An IMCA’s role and functions can be quite specific under the Act, but IMCAs are always required to produce a report for the person who instructed them. This report is provided to the decision maker and those who instruct IMCAs must pay attention to any issues raised by the IMCA in making their decision and IMCAs may formally challenge their decision-making.