Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, where a person over 16 does not have the capacity to make a decision, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) must be appointed to assist in determining his or her best interests where:
- The person lacking capacity has no close family or friends to take an interest in his/her welfare and a decision is required in relation to care, medical treatment or accommodation; or
- Family members are in dispute or disagree about the person's best interests.
For example, a person with a severe brain injury who has no friends or family and who cannot communicate through language will have an IMCA to make representations about their wishes, feelings, beliefs and values. The IMCA will bring to the attention of the decision-makers all factors that are relevant to their decision. IMCAs will also be able to challenge the decision-maker if appropriate.
See Ministry of Justice website, Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice.