IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy)

People are entitled to Mental Capacity Advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act when they are over 16 and:

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

The IMCA is instructed by the decision maker, who will be from the Local Authority or the NHS. Members of the public cannot make a referral to Dorset Advocacy for an IMCA.

The Advocate will spend time with the person, to get to know them and to learn about their situation, wishes and preferences. They will review care or medical records and speak to people who are involved in caring for the person. The IMCA will attend a “Best Interest Meeting” to ensure that the person’s views are considered and form part of the decision making process. The IMCA must write a report for the decision maker. The decision maker must take the IMCA’s report into consideration when making their decision; if they do not, the IMCA has the legal right to challenge the decision.

DoLS (The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) legislation came into force in England and Wales in 2009 as an amendment to the Mental Capacity Act (2005). The safeguards protect people whose assessed needs require restrictive levels of care. A hospital or care home can apply to the local authority for a “Standard Authorisation”, to enable them to legally detain a person. Before a Standard Authorisation can be granted a number of assessments must take place. An IMCA must be involved in the authorisation process if the person has no friends or family that can be consulted.

One key safeguard provided to the person by the authorisation of a DoLS, is that the local authority must appoint a person with legal power to represent them. This person is called a relevant person’s representative (RPR) and is usually a family member or friend. If such a person does not exist, and Advocate is appointed, in the role of a Paid Representative. A Paid Representative is required to visit the person on a regular basis and report their findings to the local authority. If the person objects to being deprived of their liberty, the Paid Representative can challenge the DoLS authorisation at the Court of Protection.

Where does this project operate?

Our IMCA and DoLS service operates throughout Dorset.  A number of local authorities outside of our area commission us to provide paid representatives for people they have placed in Dorset, Bournemouth or Poole. For further details, please contact

Where can I go if I am not in one of these areas?

Click on the website links below for help in your area:

Hampshire – Solent Mind
Somerset – Swan Advocacy
Wiltshire – Re-Think
Devon & Torbay – Devon and Torbay IMCA Service
Cornwall – SEAP