Skip to main content

SEAP - IMCA Service

Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy

Your rights to advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act

When someone is considered not capable of making their own decisions, it is still important that their views and wishes are heard by those involved in their care and treatment.
That is why local authorities are required to provide people who have been assessed as lacking capacity with access to an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (an IMCA) when decisions are being made about them.

We have a track record of providing Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy. Our advocates are fully-trained to work with patients detained under the Mental Capacity Act, and their experience and knowledge can help ensure that patients are involved in the decisions that are made about them.

What is Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy?
Providing Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy is a key aspect of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The Act places a statutory duty on local authorities to ensure that people who are considered to lack capacity and have no appropriate family or friends to consult, have access to an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (an IMCA) when a decision is being made about:

  • Providing, withdrawing or stopping serious medical treatment.
  • A change in the person’s accommodation where the NHS or local authority are proposing a stay of more than eight weeks in a care home.
  • A hospital stay of more than 28 days.
  • Adult protection proceedings.
  • Care reviews.

An IMCA is:

  • Independent of the person or people making the decisions.
  • Able to meet the person who lacks capacity in private.
  • Has the right to see all relevant health, social services and care home records.

An IMCA will not tell anyone information about you without your consent, unless breach of law or danger to life is involved.

To find out if we provide IMCA in your area please visit the website (below) and type your postcode into the box above or select your local authority area from the drop down list.

Who to contact

0300 343 5706
Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy
Parent organisation
The Advocacy People (formerly SEAP)

Where to go

seAp Local Office
Advent House, Victoria Offices
Station Approach
St Austell
PL26 8LG

Time / date details

When is it on?
Monday to Friday, 9:00 - 17:00

Other details


Our service is free of charge


Referral required
Referral details

Who is eligible for IMCA?
Patients are eligible for the support of an IMCA if they have been assessed as lacking capacity in relation to a specific decision at the time that decision needs to be made, and if they have no family or friends who are willing and able to represent their likely views.

What does ‘a person who lacks capacity’ mean?
The term ‘a person who lacks capacity’ means a person who is assessed as not capable of making a particular decision or taking a particular action for themselves at the time the decision or action needs to be taken. A person may lack capacity because of an impairment of the functioning of the mind or brain. This might be because of dementia, a learning disability, or an acquired brain injury.
How is capacity assessed?
Capacity must be assessed at the time the decision needs to be made and only in relation to the decision that needs to be made.
Typically a doctor or social worker will carry out an assessment. It is not the role of the IMCA advocate to carry out this assessment.

Referrals will usually be made by health professionals and social care staff.

Referral forms available by contacting or by calling 0300 343 5706.

When is it not appropriate to refer to an IMCA?

  • When serious medical intervention is required immediately, for example, in life threatening circumstances. A referral may still be made once the emergency has passed.
  • When the treatment is regulated by Part 4 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
  • Where it is necessary to provide accommodation urgently.
  • Where restrictions are placed on an individual’s accommodation under the Mental Health Act 1983.

Last updated: 01/02/2018

Back to top
Powered by Open Objects ©