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Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy


For people who have been assessed as lacking capacity to make certain decisions.

How can The Advocacy People help?

We all assume a basic right to make decisions about where we live and how we are cared for. We make choices every day.

But due to disability, illness or injury we may not be able to make the important decisions and have to trust that other people will make good decisions for us.

Some decisions are so important that the law (Mental Capacity Act 2005) says the person making the decision must instruct an advocate. An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) must be instructed when:

  • The person is aged 16 or over

  • A decision needs to be made about either serious medical treatment or a long-term change in where the person lives

  • The person lacks capacity to make that decision


  • There is no one independent of services, such as a family member or friend, who is “appropriate to consult”.

An IMCA supports the person who lacks capacity and represents their likely views to those responsible for making decisions. They will seek all possible information from the person, the people around them and relevant records.

They will ensure that, wherever possible, the person has been given sufficient support to participate in decision-making processes. They will ensure that the person’s rights are upheld.

We have a factsheet which tells you more about what we do.

Click here to see the factsheet.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Sometimes the people caring for us need to make decisions to keep us safe and receive treatment. This might include setting routines and stopping us from leaving.

Taking away someone’s freedom to choose can be called a ‘deprivation of liberty’. The law says that to do this the hospital or care home must get permission and certain things have to happen before permission is given. This is called Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and includes:

  • A capacity assessment to find out if the person is able to make their own decisions

  • The right to a representative. If the person does not have a family member or friend who is able to represent them, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) will be instructed by the local authority.

If the DoLS is granted, the person must still have a representative who checks the DoLS remains legal and can speak up if they are worried about the care or treatment. If there isn’t a family member or friend who is able to do this, a Paid Relevant Person’s Representative (PRPR) will be instructed by the local authority.

For people subject to similar restrictions but who live in the community, for example, in supported living, permission needs to be given by the Court of Protection. This is known as a Community DoLS. In the same way as for a DoLS, an IMCA might be instructed by the local authority to support a person who doesn’t have a family member or friend able to do this. This is called a 1.2 representative.

Where do The Advocacy People provide these services?

To find out if we provide these services in your area, have a look at our map here.

Who can refer?

We can only accept referrals from a health or social care professional.

For DoLS, we can only accept referrals from the local authority DoLS Team.

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