There are a number of different IMCA roles involved in supporting and representing people who may be subject to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. These are set out in Section 39 of the amended Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). It is important to be clear which role an IMCA is taking, as they are instructed for different reasons and have different rights and responsibilities.
Briefly the roles are:
- Section 39A IMCAs are instructed when there is an assessment in response to a request for a standard authorisation, or a concern about a potentially unauthorised deprivation of liberty.
- Section 39C IMCAs cover the role of the relevant person’s representative when there is a gap between appointments.
- Section 39D IMCAs support the person, or their relevant person’s representative, when a standard authorisation is in place.
Supervisory bodies are responsible for making all these instructions, using Form 11.
Who can take the IMCA roles?
In England local authorities are responsible for commissioning IMCA services: in Wales it is local health boards. The commissioners can set the training and qualification requirements for IMCAs. The Department of Health supported the development of national qualifications in independent advocacy. This is provided through City & Guilds. In addition to the IMCA module of the qualification, there is a specific unit on the DoLS IMCA roles.
It is good practice for IMCAs who undertake the DoLS roles to have met the following criteria:
- undertaken other IMCA roles
- successfully completed the IMCA module
- had specific training on the DoLS IMCA roles
- be working towards or have successfully completed the DoLS IMCA training
- show evidence of continued professional development.
Advocates must present case work in order to complete units of the City & Guilds advocacy qualification, so it is not possible for IMCAs to complete the course before undertaking DoLS cases. The good practice commissioning guidance suggests that those IMCAs who have not completed assessments should be supervised by IMCAs who have.