Mental capacity and deprivation of liberty safeguards

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs)

BSL Support

The IMCA service for the London Borough of Newham is provided by VoiceAbility.

What is an IMCA?

IMCAs are specialist advocates who provide safeguards for adults when they lack capacity to make some important decisions. The IMCA service is provided under the Mental Capacity Act.

Who can have an IMCA?

Deciding who can have an IMCA and what the IMCA does is set out in law. An IMCA must be instructed for people in the following circumstances:

  • The person is aged 16 or over
  • A decision needs to be made about either a long-term change in accommodation or serious medical treatment
  • The person lacks capacity to make that decision, and
  • There is no one independent of services, such as family member or friend, who is "appropriate to consult."

You may also get an IMCA when you do not have the capacity to agree to arrangements to safeguard you.

What do IMCAs do?

  • Find out your wishes, feelings, beliefs and values and what these would probably be if you had capacity
  • Support and represent you to work out whether the proposed decision is in your best interests
  • Get the views of professionals and paid workers providing care or treatment for you
  • Provide information to professionals to help work out what is in your best interests
  • Check that the decision is being made in line with the Mental Capacity Act
  • Write a report which must be considered before they make the decision.

They are independent of the person making the decision.

They do not

  • Make the decision
  • Carry out the capacity test
  • Persuade you what to do
  • Decide who is the right person to talk to
  • Have as extensive a role as other advocates.


To make a referral click the link below to complete the online IMCA referral form or alternatively complete the paper IMCA referral form (Link to webite page with latest referral forms) and send to

Online IMCA referral form