Demystifying the 39D IMCA

by Leanne Barber

It’s Mental Capacity Act Week of Action, and we want to shine the light on one of our vital advocacy services, that is often a lifeline to family and friends of a loved one who is Deprived of their Liberty in a hospital or care home. I want to talk about a specific advocacy role known as a 39d IMCA (Independent Mental Capacity Advocate). A 39d IMCA is available when a standard authorisation (a formal document setting out a person’s care arrangements) is in place to deprive them of their liberty. This means they are subject to a DoLS (the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). The person will also have an unpaid relevant person’s representative (RPR). This is normally a family member or a friend, and both the family member or friend and the person being deprived of their liberty are entitled to the support of a 39d IMCA. 

A key function of a 39d IMCA is to support the person being deprived of their liberty and the RPR to understand their RPR role and the person’s rights. The RPR must be confident in exercising their rights. A 39d IMCA is expected to take reasonable steps to help the relevant person and the relevant person’s representative. This can include helping them to: understand the legal terms of the deprivation of liberty, the assessments which are required, and how to exercise the person’s rights if they object to the deprivation of liberty, or elements of it (these are referred to as restrictions). 

Family and friends undertaking the role of RPR can often become confused, overwhelmed, and unsure if they are doing the “right thing”, as an RPR you need to be confident to address issues affecting the person who is deprived of their liberty. That’s often where we come in. A 39D IMCA can support the RPR and help them build the confidence to advocate for their loved one. It can be challenging for an RPR if a loved one is unhappy or unsettled in a care home that they themselves may have picked and agreed to them moving there.  

As an RPR it’s important that you can exercise the loved ones Article 5 (4) right to challenge their detention. This can often conflict with the RPR’s personal values and opinions. A 39D IMCA can support the RPR to overcome their personal obstacles and help with starting the challenge process.

As a service we regularly collect feedback and I wanted to share with you some recent experiences of people we have supported in their role as RPR as a 39D IMCA.

“I had a long, detailed, and informative chat with Advocacy Focus with regard to my role as a Relevant Persons Representative (RPR) for a person who is subject to a DOLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). Whilst it was decided that at present, I do not require support from the Advocacy service, it was good to know that support in the future would be available if required. From this conversation, I gained some useful knowledge about my rights as an RPR that I was previously unaware of. Thank you.” 

“I recently had contact with Advocacy Focus in regards to the RPR position for a relative who is subject to Dols. This person was appointed to my relative’s case and contacted me to discuss. I found this lady to be such a wonderful person to speak to, very attentive, and made me feel so much more at ease about the whole situation. I can’t thank her enough. The whole experience was great from start to finish. Nothing was too much trouble, any questions I had were answered in depth and helped me and my family a great deal. Highly recommended!” 

“They have ‘gone beyond’ in supporting us through an extremely difficult time in our lives. Whilst the decision we now face is extremely difficult, at the very least our mum will have her wish and have the chance to come home.” 

If you need any help and support with a family or friend who is Deprived of their Liberty, contact us on 0300 323 0965 and our team will do their upmost to provide the assistance you need.  

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