An IMCA or an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate represents and can speak on behalf of people who lack the capacity to make decisions – especially when important decisions are being made. According to the Mental Capacity Act (2005) people who may have difficulties making decisions and choices about their lives have an absolute right to an IMCA. The local authorities hold the responsibility to appoint an IMCA for an individual. The Act intends to protect and empower people who may not be able to make their own decisions. This may be due to the result of brain injury, dementia, stroke, learning difficulties or mental health needs. The Act ensures that people are presumed to have capacity to make decisions unless a Responsible Clinician, or select Mental Health Professionals assesses otherwise. These assessments should take place prior to any IMCA involvement.
How Can an IMCA Help?
An IMCA will listen to their client and can liaise with other professionals involved in their care. Some of examples of situations that IMCAs can support with are:
Serious medical treatments
Hospital or care home transfers
Important meetings such as Care Reviews
Support you in making Advance Decisions about your care
An IMCA is independent from the care team of a client and can:
Meet with clients in private
Consult with professionals involved in client care
Provide information about client rights, the social care system and the Mental Capacity Act
Access client medical records
Question decisions that are being made about client care
Challenge decisions that a client may disagree with
An IMCA cannot:
Make the decision for a client
Tell a client what to do
There are 4 main elements to IMCA involvement:
Ascertaining the views, feelings, wishes, beliefs and values of the person and ensuring that those views are communicated to, and considered by, the decision-maker.
Non-instructed advocacy. Asking questions on behalf of the person and representing them. Making sure the person’s rights are upheld and that they are kept involved and at the centre of the decision-making process.
Investigating Circumstances. Gathering and evaluating information from relevant professionals and people who know the person well. Carrying out research relating to the decision.
Auditing the decision-making process. Checking that the decision-maker is acting in accordance with the Act and that the decision is being made in the person’s best interests. Challenging the decision if necessary,
What Training is Available?
At Advent Advocacy, training related to IMCA includes topics such as:
Completing Mental Capacity Assessments, including how to write a Mental Capacity Assessment
How the Mental Capacity Act relates to individual care plans
How the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act intertwine
Understanding the role of an IMCA
Making decisions under the Mental Capacity Act
Advent Advocacy have provided a nationwide advocacy service since 2007.