What do IMCAs do and who should get an IMCA?
What do IMCAs do?
IMCAs are a safeguard for people who lack capacity to make some important decisions.
The IMCA role is to support and represent the person in the decision-making process. Essentially they make sure that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is being followed.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Independent Mental Capacity Advocates) (General) Regulations 2006 set out the IMCA’s role and functions. These are grouped below into four areas.
Role of IMCA
1. Gathering information
- Meet and interview the person (in private if possible).
- Examine relevant health and social care records.
- Get the views of professionals and paid workers.
- Get the views of anybody else who can give information about the wishes and feelings, beliefs or values of the person.
- Find out other information which may be relevant to the decision.
2. Evaluating information
- Check that the person has been supported to be involved in the decision.
- Try to work out what the person’s wishes and feelings would be if they had capacity to make the decision and what values and beliefs would influence this.
- Make sure that different options have been considered.
- Decide whether to ask for a second medical opinion where it is a serious medical treatment decision.
3. Making representations
IMCAs should raise any issues and concerns with the decision maker. This could be done verbally or in writing. IMCAs are required to produce a report for the person who instructed them. In most cases this should be provided to the decision maker before the decision is made.
People who instruct IMCAs must pay attention to any issues raised by the IMCA in making their decision.
4. Challenging decisions
In many cases IMCAs will be able to resolve any concerns they have with the decision maker before the decision is made. Where this has not been possible IMCAs may formally challenge the decision-making process. They can use local complaint procedures or try to get the matter looked at by the Court of Protection.
Who should get an IMCA?
An independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) must be instructed (1) for people in the following circumstances
- The person is aged 16 or over (2)
- A decision needs to be made about either a long-term change in accommodation (3) or serious medical treatment (4),
- The person lacks capacity (5) to make that decision, and
- There is no one independent of services, such as a family member or friend, who is “appropriate to consult” (6).
An IMCA may (7) also be provided to people for other decisions concerning
In adult protection cases an IMCA may be instructed even where family members or others are available to be consulted.
Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
IMCAs must be instructed (10) for people who are being assessed as to whether they are currently being, or should be deprived of their liberty (11), where there is no-one “appropriate to consult” (12).
IMCAs must also be made available to people who are subject to a standard authorisation in the following circumstances:
- To fill gaps between appointments of person’s representatives
- If a person has an unpaid representative, when requested by the person, their representative, or if the Supervisory Body believes either could benefit from the support of an IMCA.