Someone to speak up for you (advocacy)
What is advocacy and how can an advocate help me?
Advocates can help you to make sure your views are heard; they are independent of social services and the NHS.
Some of the things advocates can help with, so you can:
- understand the care and support process for assessing and reviewing your needs
- talk about how you feel about your care
- make decisions
- challenge decisions about your care and support if you do not agree with them
- stand up for your rights
- support to make a complaint regarding health or adult social care
- support for adults detained in Police custody to understand their rights and have their voice heard
They can write letters for you and attend meetings with you.
What is a mental health advocate?
Understanding Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) for mental health staff
Do I need and advocate?
Do you have difficulty in:
- understanding and remembering information?
- communicating your views?
- understanding the pros and cons of different options?
If yes, you will need an advocate.
If family or friends are not willing and able or are not appropriate to act on your behalf and in your best interests. You can refer yourself or a professional can refer you to Onside Advocacy
A paid carer cannot act as an advocate for you.
Organisations that can help with advocacy
Onside Advocacy is Worcestershire County Council’s contracted provider, offering advocacy services to people across Worcestershire.
Our Way Self Advocacy works with people across Worcestershire. It aims to provide social and engaging recreational activities and opportunities for people with learning difficulties and autism.
Speakeasy N.O.W. is a self-advocacy charity who support people with learning disabilities and/or autism, to speak up about the things that matter to them.
Types of advocacy
A family member or friend can be a representative, but in some circumstances, you need a qualified advocate. A paid caregiver cannot act as an advocate for you.
There are various types of advocate:
- friends and family (if willing and/or able) that are able to support the individual to speak for themselves,
- individuals can advocate for themselves,
- formal advocacy which is on behalf of one person and is provided by a qualified advocate. Qualified advocates are provided free of charge by Onside Advocacy in Worcestershire
If a family member or friend is willing and able to speak up for you and act in your best interests, then they can support you with general advocacy, Care Act advocacy, making a complaint to the NHS, Adult Social Care, Continuing Health Care advocacy and/or be your Appropriate Adult.
In some circumstances a family member or friend might not be willing and/or able to support an individual to make their views known to professionals. Also, a family member may disagree with the professionals’ assessment and may not be acting in the best interests of the individual.
If this is the case, please refer the individual to Onside for an independent qualified advocate. For example, for those lacking capacity (IMCA) and for those in NHS residential mental health services (IMHA).
Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (also known IMCA for short)
This service is for individuals who do not have mental capacity. The service is designed to safeguard the rights of individuals assessed as lacking the capacity to make specific decisions.
This could be in relation to serious medical treatment, changes of accommodation, care review; safeguarding adults and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLS). The Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy service is independent of Worcestershire County Council Adult Social Care.
Independent Mental Health Advocacy (known as IMHA for short)
This service is for individuals who are staying in an NHS mental health service. These patients have the right to be provided with the support of a specialist advocate with the appropriate training and experience to carry out the role.
The Independent Mental Health Advocacy service is independent of the NHS.
Independent Health and Social Care Complaints Advocacy
This is a service to support people who want to complain about their NHS care or treatment or Adult Social Care. This is a free and confidential service independent of the NHS and Adult Social Care.
Anyone who receives support from care services, in the community, residential services or in prisons, may be able to have support from an advocate. You have the right to an independent advocate if you need help to understand what is happening within the care processes.
This may be about the care and support choices you have and help to be able to tell people what your views are. Individuals would be eligible for advocacy if they do not have another suitable person to provide this support.
The Appropriate Adult Service supports vulnerable adults when they have been detained by the police for interview.
People with mental ill health and/or learning disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to the distress and pressures caused by the experience of arrest and police detention.
Continuing Health Care Advocacy (known as CHC for short)
This is advocacy to support individuals through the NHS Continuing Healthcare assessments. Advocacy may be needed to support patients to understand Continuing Healthcare and the processes.
This advocacy helps with the Continuing Healthcare eligibility assessment, care planning and any appeals. Individuals need advocacy if they are unfriended and/or, would have substantial difficulty in engaging in the process.
Some individuals do not have anyone in their life that is willing or able to advocate for the patient or they are not deemed to be appropriate to advocate for the patient. If this is the case please refer to Onside Advocacy.