Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy
Who might need this: people aged 16+ who don’t have the capacity to make specific decisions (about where they live or serious medical treatment, safeguarding, care reviews) and who don’t have anyone who can be consulted about those decisions.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocates are known as ‘IMCAs’. They’re specially trained to support people who lack capacity and make sure their views and wishes are heard.
It’s a statutory service. This means that, under the Mental Capacity Act, local authorities and NHS organisations must refer people who need an IMCA.
How Independent Mental Capacity Advocates can help
- Meet with the person to try and gain their views, wishes and feelings.
- Support the person to be as involved as possible in the decision-making
- Speak to other people in the person’s life (e.g. care workers) to gather information
- Decide whether to ask for a second opinion (for serious medical treatment decisions)
- Write a report for the person responsible for making the decision (usually a social worker or doctor).
- Attend best interest meetings about the decision
- Access relevant care and health records
- Look at alternative options
- Challenge decisions if it is appropriate (for example the principles of the Mental Capacity Act have not been followed)
If people can’t tell their advocate what they want, it’s not a problem. Our advocates will find different ways of working to help establish people’s views and wishes as far as possible so that their rights can be upheld. We call this ‘non-instructed’ advocacy.
Who can make a referral for an IMCA?
- The local authority or NHS
- The person responsible for making the decision (usually a doctor or social worker) or someone acting on their behalf (e.g. a secretary or member of nursing staff) should make the referral
If you think someone should have the support of an IMCA, but you do not work for the local authority or NHS, you can still contact us and let us know. We can then get in touch with the person making the decision to discuss the referral with them.