Date Published: 28 December 2005

New pilot programmes to help people who lack capacity

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Health minister Rosie Winterton today announced the seven organisations that have been chosen to pilot the new Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) role.

From January 2006, pilot IMCA advocates will provide a service to people without capacity, who have no families or friends to support them.

An IMCA is someone appointed to support and represent a person who lacks capacity, possibly because of dementia, a brain injury, a learning disability or mental health needs, who is also faced with certain decisions about serious medical treatment and long term care moves.

For example, a person with a severe brain injury who has no friends or family and who cannot communicate through language will have an IMCA to make representations about their wishes, feelings, beliefs and values. The IMCA will bring to the attention of the decision-makers all factors that are relevant to their decision. IMCAs will also be able to challenge the decision-maker if appropriate.

The regional pilots are trying out the practicalities of the service to identify the best way of introducing these at a national level.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton said:

" I am delighted that we will be able to provide these new services more than a year ahead of the planned implementation of the Act. The work of the pilots will ensure that many vulnerable people will benefit from the safeguards that the Act will eventually bring. It will help support people who are unable to speak for themselves when they are faced with major decisions about their health and social care but have no family or friends to represent them."

The organisations piloting the IMCA service are: Advocacy Matters, Advocacy Partners, Cambridge House Advocacy, Dorset Advocacy, POhWER, Speaking Up and Skills for People. They are spread across the country: Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Croydon, Dorset, Hertfordshire, Merseyside, Newcastle and Southwark. The Department of Health will produce guidance for the national implementation of the IMCA service based on the experience of the pilots. Cambridge University will be undertaking a cross-site research project aimed at learning lessons from the seven sites and producing practical guidance.

Source(s): UK Gov., Dept Health

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