What is Advocacy?
Do you need help to be involved in decisions about your care needs? Or are you a carer of a young person who is about to start using adult services? Finding out about Advocacy is really important so that you or the young person you care for can be heard, understand your choices and make your own decisions.
Advocacy, Requesting Support in relation to the Care Act
Changes brought in by the Care Act mean that any decisions made by a local authority about your care will consider your well-being and what is important to you so that you can stay healthy and remain as independent as possible. To do this, it is important for you to be fully involved in decisions about your care and support needs.
An advocate can support you to…
- Understand the assessment process
- Understand your choices and make your own decisions
- Tell others what you want and about your views and feelings
- Help you to challenge a decision if you are not happy with it and
- Make sure that you get the support you are entitled to.
You might be able to access advocacy if you are…
- An adult who needs care and support
- A carer of an adult
- A carer of a young person who is about to start using adult services
- A young person who is about to start using adult services.
And you find it very hard to…
- Understand what is happening and the choices that you have
- Decide what care and support you need
- Tell people what you want
- You do not have any friends or family available (or who feel able) to support you
Some people who lack capacity to make decisions in relation to their care or residence may already have an advocate appointed for them under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. If they do, it might be possible for the same advocate to be their Care Act advocate too.
Local authorities will be under a duty to provide an independent advocate where an adult may have “substantial difficulty” in doing one of the following…
- Understanding relevant information
- Retaining that information
- Using or weighing up that information
- Communicating their views, wishes or feelings.
And there is no appropriate person (such as a family member) who can support them.
When should an advocate be appointed?
The local authority will have to consider whether somebody has substantial difficulty in understanding matters and whether an advocate is therefore required in a number of scenarios including…
- Carrying out needs assessments
- Carrying out carer’s assessments
- Preparing care and support plans for adults
- Preparing support plans for carers
- Revising care and support plans/support plans
- Carrying out child’s needs assessment
- Carrying out child’s carer’s assessment; and
- Carrying out young carer’s assessments.
If a decision is made by a local authority about your care that you are not happy with, your advocate may be able to help. Your advocate can help you write a report about the things you don’t like to ask for the decision to be changed.
The local authority is under a duty to consider any written report from an advocate and respond in writing. It must also consider the advocate’s views when making decisions in relation to the individual in question.
An advocate may also be under a duty to bring legal proceedings on behalf of an individual that they represent, if disputes cannot be resolved with the local authority.
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