Commissioning and monitoring of Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) services
Supporting the independence of the IMCA service
The draft service specification said that IMCA providers should be independent of the local authority, with their own constitution, code of practice and complaints procedure. It also said that the IMCAs will be managed by, and primarily accountable to, the advocacy organisation that recruits and employs them, thereby maintaining their independence from the local service providers.
There are significant risks to the independence of IMCA providers because they are commissioned by local authorities who are responsible for many of the decisions IMCAs are instructed for. For example, the IMCA provider may need to take formal action against the local authority in relation to an accommodation decision.
Good practice is for commissioners to identify the means of safeguarding independence in funding agreements and contracts. This would include the following:
- Having a clear system for resolving disputes which could be included in an engagement protocol. For example, this could allow the IMCA provider to raise issues in relation to IMCA instructions at a senior level within the local authority.
- The commissioning authority not being involved in any matters of staff deployment or discipline. This would include not trying to determine whether a particular IMCA does or does not support and represent a specific individual.
- Identifying how the IMCA service's legal costs would be met if it makes an application to apply to the Court of Protection or for judicial review (see Disputed case costs)