Practice guidance on the involvement of Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) in safeguarding adults

Who can instruct an IMCA ?

For safeguarding adults the instruction must be made by either a local authority or NHS body that may need to take protective measures in relation to the person at risk. Therefore the instruction may be made by:

  1. The local authority with responsibility for instigating safeguarding adult proceedings. 
  2. The local authority responsible for the person at risk's care which may be different to 1 (e.g. out of borough placements). This could be a care manager or social worker.
  3. An NHS body with responsibility for the person at risk's care (e.g. the hospital where they are an inpatient or a primary care trust (PCT) which is funding a placement).

It is recommended here that if anyone other than the safeguarding manager is considering instructing an IMCA , they should discuss this first with the safeguarding manager.

On receipt of an instruction, the IMCAservice is required to verify that it was issued by an authorised representative of one of the above (IMCA General Regulations 6(4)(a)). IMCAs are advised here to establish at this point who the safeguarding manager is, i.e. the person with designated responsibility for managing the safeguarding adults process in relation to the person at risk.

Section 10.12 of the MCA code of practice says that the IMCAservice to be instructed is the one which ‘works wherever the person is at the time that the person needs support and representation’. In most cases this will be the IMCAservice which covers the local authority responsible for coordinating the safeguarding adults process (i.e. where the abuse is alleged to have occurred). The only exceptions will be if the person at risk is residing in a different local authority at the time the IMCA is instructed.

Good practice points

The safeguarding manager should make a decision about whether to instruct an IMCA . Where other professions who have the authority to instruct an IMCA are considering doing so they should discuss this first with the safeguarding manager.

When instructed, IMCAs should find out who the safeguarding manager is.