Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy was introduced as part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This gives people who have an impairment, injury or a disability which results in them being unable to make a specific decision for themselves, the right to receive independent support and representation.

Your local authority, or the NHS decision maker MUST make a referral if you are un-befriended (have no ‘appropriate’ family and friends who can be consulted) and you have been assessed as lacking the capacity to make a decision about:

  • Serious medical treatments
  • Long-term moves (more than 28 days in hospital or more than 8 weeks in a care home)
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

In addition, your local council, or the NHS decision maker MAY refer you if you lack capacity to make a decision about either:

  • A Care review (if you have no ‘appropriate’ family and friends)
  • A Safeguarding referral (whether you are the victim or alleged perpetrator, regardless of whether you have family and friends)

We have produced an "Information for Professionals" document which can be downloaded HERE

We also have a specific "IMCA Engagement Policy" which can be downloaded HERE

You can find more information and useful resources  about the Mental Capacity Act, IMCA and DoLS on the SCIE website HERE

What will the IMCA do?

  • Be independent of the decision maker
  • Find out the views of the client including their wishes, feelings, beliefs and values and as far as possible what they would probably want if they had capacity
  • Support and represent the client in discussions and meetings regarding the decision and their best interests
  • Pass on information to professionals and the client that might help work out what is in the persons best interests.
  • Check that the proposed decision is made in line with the MCA and is lawful
  • Provide a report for the decision maker to take in to account before any decision is made.

What the IMCA will not do

  • Tell the client what to decide
  • Carry out the capacity assessment
  • Decide who is appropriate to consult
  • Make the decision


The Decision Maker must decide if the person meets the criteria and if so must make an IMCA referral. The decision maker will be the local authority or NHS professional that will action the decision. For medical decisions this will usually be the doctor and for change of residence referrals the social worker managing the person’s care.

We are able to accept initial referrals from representatives of the Local Authority/NHS organisation other than the decision maker but must have details of the decision maker included in the referral so that they can authorise the work.

For more information please visit our referrals page.