Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)

The council must provide you with an advocate if you find it very hard to be involved in decisions about yourself, your care or long term accommodation, and you do not have a friend or relative who can help make sure you are involved.

The advocate is there to:

  • Find out about your views, wishes and feelings about the decision. This can be by talking to you and the people you are close to and it may involve talking to professionals who care for you.
  • Communicate your views, wishes and feelings to decision makers.
  • Provide information to you and to the decision makers to help work out what is in your best interests.

Who can 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

Referrals can be made by authorised staff in the local authority or the NHS.

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

Contact us:

  • Telephone: 01785 336387
  • Email:
  • Post: Total Voice Staffordshire, The Northfield Centre, Magnolia Avenue, Stafford ST16 3DU