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Support for those Involved in the Safeguarding Adult Process


An Adult may benefit from the support of an independent advocate to ensure that their voice is heard, their wishes fully taken into account and their rights preserved. 

Where the Adult has Capacity, then they may instruct an advocate to represent their views, for example by attending meetings with or on behalf of the Adult.  If the adult has substantial difficulty the Local Authority should arrange for an advocate where appropriate. An advocate instructed in this way must act upon and in accordance with the instructions of the Adult.

Where the Adult lacks Capacity to make their own decisions, then the advocate may independently decide how best to represent the Adult.

An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) is appointed under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 where certain criteria are satisfied – see Independent Mental Capacity Advocates below.

All advocates should:

  • Undertake appropriate training and be fully conversant with relevant policy and procedure;
  • Report any concerns they have of possible abuse to Adult Social Care or to the Police if a crime may have been committed;
  • Cooperate fully to assist with any investigative procedures;
  • Continue in their advocacy role with the Adult throughout such process supporting them and helping them to understand what is going on;
  • Ensure that the voice of the Adult is heard.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates

Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, where a person over 16 does not have the Capacity to make a decision, an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) must be appointed to assist in determining his or her best interests where:

  • The person lacking Capacity has no close family or friends to take an interest in his/her welfare and a decision is required in relation to care, medical treatment or accommodation; or
  • Family members are in dispute or disagree about the person's best interests

IMCAs have a role in supporting those lacking Capacity and those without anyone to speak for them in relation to specific local authority and National Health Service decisions about long term accommodation and serious medical treatment.

IMCA Role in Safeguarding

IMCAs have a specific safeguarding adult role.

In safeguarding cases, access to IMCA is not restricted to people who have no one else to support them. People who lack Capacity and who have family and friends can still have an IMCA to support them through the safeguarding process.

The role of the IMCA in safeguarding adults is set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which specifies that the local authority and NGS bodies have powers to instruct an IMCA under the following circumstances:

  1. Where it is alleged that the person is being or has been abused or neglected; or
  2. Where it is alleged that the person is abusing or has abused another person; and
  3. Where they propose to take protective measures in relation to a person who lacks capacity to agree to one or more of the measures.

A protective measure is any action taken to minimise the risk of Abuse or Neglect continuing, whether the person is the alleged victim or the alleged perpetrator.

Advocates should be invited to the case conference (see Stage Six: Case Conference and Safeguarding Procedure) (other than in exceptional circumstances e.g. where the relationship between the Adult and the advocate is considered abusive), either accompanying the Adult or attending on their behalf, to represent the person’s views and wishes.

Instructed advocates would attend only with the permission of the adult.

For further information, including the regulations covering the involvement of an IMCA, see Practice guidance on the involvement of Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) in Safeguarding Adults, SCIE.