Commissioning and monitoring of Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) services

Steering groups

The original example service specification suggested that IMCA steering groups be set up and meet quarterly. In addition to the commissioner and IMCA provider, membership was to include representatives of health and social services.

Consistent feedback in developing this guidance has been that steering groups have been a critical factor in the effective delivery of the IMCA service. Where steering groups have maintained the participation of senior managers in health and social care services, they have provided an effective escalation and mediation point for issues arising with the service. This forum can, for example, avoid the need for some applications to the Court of Protection. Steering groups can also be robust defenders of the IMCA provider's independence.

The steering group can also function to address any systemic issues identified in the access to, or the function of, the IMCA service. The operation of the steering group is usefully embedded in engagement protocols.

Where the Mental Capacity Act is being successfully integrated into health and social care practice, the need for a specific IMCA steering group may be reviewed. In some areas the functions of the IMCA steering group have been incorporated into wider MCA implementation networks. In others they have been transferred into local safeguarding boards.