If you have difficulty getting involved in assessments or meetings, an advocate is someone who can support and represent you.
Your advocate can:
- help you understand processes and what’s happening
- make sure your wishes, views and feelings are expressed
- support you to challenge a decision we've made, if needed
- help you take part in care and support assessments, planning and reviews or enquiries into abuse or neglect
The aim is to have your wishes, feelings and needs heard.
How we can help
It's important to work out if and how you could be better supported.
For example, you might find it easier if information was presented to you in a different way or to have an interpreter.
Or we could make reasonable adjustments so you can get the support you need.
If you still have ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved, we'll support you to be as fully involved as possible, either by:
- making sure you have an appropriate person (a friend or relative who can help you be involved, for example)
- if there's no appropriate individual to help you, by arranging for an independent advocate to support and represent you
What is 'substantial difficulty'?
A substantial difficulty may be found in any one of these four areas:
- understanding information
- retaining information
- using and thinking about information given to you
- communicating your views, wishes and feelings
Many people can be supported to understand information if it's presented and explained appropriately.
We must make sure this happens.
However, some people will not be able to understand after extra support has been given.
If you're unable to retain information long enough to weigh up options and make decisions, you're likely to have substantial difficulty being involved in the process.
You must be able to weigh up information to fully take part and express your preferences or choose between options. You must be able to communicate your views, wishes and feelings (by talking, writing, signing or any other method) to help the decision process and make priorities clear.
If you're unable to do this, you will have substantial difficulty taking part and being involved in the process.
If you have substantial difficulty being involved in the assessment, planning, review or safeguarding processes, we must make sure you're offered an independent advocate unless there's someone else to support you - an appropriate individual.
Who is an appropriate individual?
An appropriate individual could be a carer, friend or relative, for example.
The important thing is that they're able to make your active involvement in the process possible.
Your wishes must be respected - if you don’t want to be supported by a particular person then this will be honoured.
We must be satisfied it's in your best interests to be supported and represented by the person.
An appropriate individual cannot be someone who is paid to care or treat you - it cannot be your GP, nurse, key worker or care and support worker, for example.
We'll decide whether a family member or friend can act as an appropriate individual.
There are times where this may not be appropriate, for example:
- if we suspect the person is being abusive towards you
- if a placement in NHS-funded provision's being considered and we believe it'd be in your best interests to arrange an independent advocate
- if there's a disagreement between us and yourself, and an independent advocate would help the situation
Independent advocacy service details
Age UK provide a free independent care act advocacy service in Rutland for adults and young people aged over who might not have an appropriate adult to help them.
Call: 0116 204 5110