What is an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)?
IMCA is a type of statutory advocacy introduced by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Act gives some people who lack capacity a legal right to receive support from an IMCA.
Who is the IMCA service for?
The IMCA service is provided for any person aged 16 years or older, who has no one willing and able to support and represent them, and who lacks capacity to make a decision about either a long-term care move, serious medical treatment, adult safeguarding procedures or a care review.
Derbyshire Mind provides this service for eligible people who, at the time an IMCA is required, are resident in the Derbyshire County Council local authority area whether on a permanent or temporary basis.
What is meant by ‘having nobody else who is willing and able to be consulted?’
The IMCA is a safeguard intended to apply to those people who have no network of support, such as close family or friends, who take an interest in their welfare. Decision-makers in the NHS and local authorities need to determine if there are family or friends who are willing and able to be consulted about the proposed decision. If it is not possible, practical and appropriate to consult anyone, an IMCA should be instructed.
Who has a duty to instruct IMCAs?
Staff in the NHS or a Local Authority, for example, doctors, care managers and social workers, all have a duty under the Mental Capacity Act to instruct an IMCA where the eligibility criteria are met.
What is the role of an IMCA?
It is the IMCA’s role to make representations about the client’s wishes, feelings, beliefs and values and to bring to the attention of the decision maker all factors that are relevant to the decision. This can include ascertaining alternative courses of action and seeking second medical opinions if necessary.
An IMCA’s involvement with a client will be short term and decision specific. They will arrange to see the person and talk to all other people relevant to the decision in the most practical and appropriate manner. This may be by calling a ‘best interests’ meeting for all relevant paid professionals, by arranging individual meetings with professionals or by conducting telephone interviews.
They will also examine and take copies of relevant health or social care records where necessary.
In the case of a Serious Medical Treatment decision the IMCA may request a Second Medical Opinion where necessary.
Once all information has been gathered and evaluated the IMCA is required to write a report on their findings and present this to the decision maker. The decision maker must have regard to this report when making their final decision. They must also notify the IMCA of the final decision once this has been reached.
The service is independent and free of charge
Mental Capacity Act Directory