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

When an IMCA should be instructed

Consideration should be given to the most appropriate time to instruct an IMCA in the safeguarding adults process:

In some cases it will be appropriate to involve an IMCA at the strategy discussion/meeting stage. This would need to happen for cases where the wishes/decisions made by the individual would have a significant impact on the investigative process or where immediate actions need to be taken to safeguard the individual prior to further investigation taking place.

In other cases, it may be more appropriate for an IMCA to become involved at the case conference/safeguarding planning stage so that they can provide input into the safeguarding plan. This would be more appropriate in cases where decisions need to be made as a result of findings of the investigation

There are a number of potential benefits of involving IMCAs early on in proceedings. The most important of these is to avoid decisions being taken without the person having had independent representation – for example, where a person at risk is moved against their wishes out of a potentially abusive environment before an IMCA is instructed. Other benefits include the IMCA having a greater opportunity to identify the person at risk's wishes and providing an additional safeguard if the outcome of the process is that no protective measures are put in place.

Attendance at safeguarding adults meetings is a key way for IMCAs to support and represent the person at risk. After instruction it is recommended that IMCAs should be invited to all safeguarding adults meetings.

Good practice points

As well as considering whether to instruct, the safeguarding manager should also consider the most appropriate time to instruct an IMCA . The instruction of an IMCA should not be delayed if protective measures which will have a direct impact on the person at risk are to be taken on a best interests basis, or abuse has been established.

Local procedures should identify the safeguarding manager's responsibility to make a decision with regard to the instruction of an IMCA , both at the strategy discussion/meeting and the case conference/safeguarding planning stages.

Once an IMCA has been instructed they should be invited to all safeguarding adults meetings.