Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)

If you have been assessed as ‘lacking capacity’ to make specific decisions you may be able to get an advocate.

Who should be referred to the IMCA service?

The local authority/NHS decision maker MUST refer you if you have no ‘appropriate’ family and friends if you lack capacity to make a decision about either:

  • Serious medical treatment
  • Long term moves (more the 28 days in hospital/8 weeks in a care home)
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The local authority/NHS decision maker MAY refer you if you lack capacity to make a decision about either

  • Care review – with no ‘appropriate’ family or friends
  • Safeguarding referral – victim or alleged perpetrator, regardless of family and friends

How do you know if someone lacks capacity?

You may be assessed as lacking the ability to make a decision, and needing an IMCA, if you cannot do one or more of the following:

  • Understand information given to you about the decision.
  • Retain the information for long enough to make the decision.
  • Use or weigh up the information as part of the decision making process.
  • Communicate your decision (by any means, e.g. talking, sign language or blinking).

The assessment must be specific to the decision which needs to be made, for example your medical treatment, not a generic test of capacity. Whether and how such assessments are recorded may vary according to the seriousness of the decision made.

How to Refer

If you are not sure whether an IMCA is relevant or not, call our helpline at the top of the page and we can talk you through the situation and advise you of the best route forward.

Referrals can be made by authorised staff in the local authority or the NHS to the IMCA service by answering some key questions about your capacity.

Alternatively, you can download our referral form below.

We also provide Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding (DoLS) services.

Referral Form