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

Availability of service

The draft service specification suggested the IMCA service should be available during office hours, every weekday, except public holidays. It also suggested that IMCAs would be available outside these times by arrangement to meet the needs of the service. This is the predominant model which has been adopted and has been widely considered to be effective.

The new section 39A IMCA role related to the DoLS is putting additional demands on service availability, particularly the potential need to work outside office hours. The 39A IMCA may be instructed in relation to an assessment which needs to be completed within seven calendar days (either in relation to a potential unauthorised deprivation of liberty or a request for a standard authorisation where an urgent authorisation is in place).

There is some early evidence that 39A IMCAs are not always being instructed as soon as possible in this seven-day period by supervisory bodies. It is preferable for this to be addressed with supervisory bodies rather than to use it as a rationale to extend the availability of the IMCA service to include weekends and public holidays.