Purpose – This paper aims to show the particular difference Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) can make towards specific decisions which some acquired brain injury clients, who are eligible for the IMCA service, experience. Design/methodology/approach – A case study is highlighted in which the role of the IMCA is described against the background of a selective literature review on the history of advocacy in relation to its emergence as a profession. This analysis references issues of spirituality and culture. Findings – Themes raised in the case are discussed with reference to ongoing research and these are related to the best interests of clients, and to reflexivity as a basis for the professionalisation of advocacy. Research limitations/implications – IMCA practitioners are instructed in well‐defined “best interests” situations, where an individual has no capacity, support or representation, or requires safeguarding measures in relation to certain decisions. In these cases, social, cultural, emotional, religious or spiritual factors can contribute to the decisions which need to be made. Practical implications – The emerging role of the IMCA in the “best interests” process is outlined, including how health and social care professionals, or decision‐makers, may relate to, benefit from, or respond to challenges by the IMCA in supporting clients in decisions made on their behalf. Originality/value – Healthcare professionals and those advocating, including IMCA, could more intentionally weigh up the values and beliefs of clients using, for example, the “best interests checklist” or by referring to “spiritual assessment”, as used increasingly by mental health ward staff and chaplains.
Social Care and Neurodisability – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 17, 2011
Keywords: Independent advocacy; Best interests; Spirituality; Well‐being; Professional studies; Spiritual assessment; Mental health services; Neurology; Disabilities