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The Mental Capacity Act 2005 introduced the role of the Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA).

IMCAs are a legal safeguard for people who lack the capacity, and who do not have family or friends to support them, to make specific important decisions:

  • Serious medical treatment
  • Change of accommodation
  • Care reviews
  • Adult protection

The IMCA role is to support and represent the person in the decision-making process.   IMCA’s make sure that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 is being followed.

What does an IMCA do?

Gathering information

  • Meet and interview the person
  • Examine relevant records.
  • Get the views of professionals
  • Get the views of anybody else who can give relevant information

Evaluating information

  • Check that the person has been supported to be involved in the decision
  • Try to work out what the person’s wishes and feelings would be if they had capacity to make the decision.
  • Decide whether to ask for a second medical opinion.

Making Representations

  • IMCAs should raise any issues and concerns with the decision maker. IMCAs are required to produce a report for the person who instructed them.
  • People who instruct IMCAs must pay attention to any issues raised by the IMCA in making their decision.
  • In many cases IMCAs will be able to resolve any concerns they have with the decision maker before the decision is made. Where this has not been possible IMCAs may formally challenge the decision-making process.

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) give additional rights and responsibilities to an IMCA, other than those assigned to them by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Chapter 3 of the DOLs Code of Practice provides a detailed list of those rights and responsibilities.

News About DoLS

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLs) are included in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and came into force on 1 April 2009.

The safeguards are designed to protect the interests of vulnerable people and to:

  • Ensure they can be given the care they need in the least restrictive regimes
  • prevent arbitrary decisions that deprive people of their liberty
  • provide safeguards for people
  • provide them with rights of challenge against unlawful detention
  • avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.

The Mental Capacity Act DOL safeguards apply to anyone:

  • aged 18 and over
  • who has a mental disorder, such as dementia or a significant learning disability
  • who lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and/or treatment
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights) is considered, after independent assessment, to be necessary in their best interests and to protect them from harm.
  • The safeguards cover patients in hospitals, and people in care homes registered under the Care Standards Act 2000, whether placed under public or private arrangements.

IMCA referrals need to be made to the appropriate contracted provider. In north Wales this is CADMHAS or Flintshire Advocacy and in Wirral this is N-Compass.