How can an advocate help?
An advocate can help a person to:
- speak up for themselves or give their views
- understand the process they are going through, their rights and what choices are available to them
- be part of an important decision which is being made about them
- prepare for and take part in meetings and tribunals
- raise queries or concerns
- access information in the format which is most suitable
- access services that can support them
Advocates can also provide information and signpost people to other helpful services.
Types of advocacy
In certain circumstances a person has the legal right to an advocate including under the Care Act, Mental Capacity Act and Mental Health Act.
The following are Statutory Advocacy services:
- – An IMCA is an advocate who has been specially trained to support people who are not able to make certain decisions for themselves (they lack the capacity) and do not have family or friends who are able to speak for them. IMCAs do not make decisions and they are independent of the people who do make the decisions.
- – If a person is deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act, an IMCA will be appointed to protect their human rights and make sure the deprivation is lawful, reasonable and in their best interests. The IMCA supports the person and collects information about them including their beliefs, values and previous behaviour in order to represent their wishes.
- – Everyone who is deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act must have a representative. This could be a family member or a friend but if there is no one suitable it could be a Paid Representative also known as an RPPR. RPPRs are qualified advocates who have specialist knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards legislation.
- – An IMHA is an independent advocate who is trained in the Mental Health Act 1983 and supports people who are being treated under the Act to understand their rights and participate in decisions about their care and treatment. IMHAs can support people who are detained in hospital and people living in the community and receiving Supervised Community Treatment or are subject to Guardianship under the Act.
- – The Care Act says that local councils must involve people in decisions about their care and support needs. If it would be difficult for someone to be involved without support the council must make sure they get the help they need. If the person doesn’t have someone who can help them they have the right to have an independent Care Act advocate.
- (Also called Independent Health Complaints Advocacy (IHCAS)) – NHS Complaints Advocates help people to use the complaints process to raise a complaint about NHS funded treatment or care.
- – CAMHS advocacy support is provided within both private and NHS hospitals across the country. Advocates provide drop-in services for the young people to access advocacy on a regular basis. Advocates support individuals to have their voice heard or work with groups of young people to raise issues they have identified.
Non-statutory advocacy services help those who fall outside the eligibility criteria for statutory services.
- – Community advocates can support people find it difficult to put their views across or feel they aren’t being listened to deal with an issue they are facing.
- – Citizen Advocates are trained volunteers. They provide one-to-one support to help people tackle the issues they are facing. Citizen Advocates may provide support in person, by telephone or by email and help people to access information, speak up and get their voice heard.
- – Peer Advocates are volunteers with lived experience of using health and social care services. They share their experience and provide practical support and encouragement. Peer advocates are matched with someone who has similar needs and issues to support them to develop new skills and gain confidence.
- – Group Advocacy brings people with similar needs and issues together to support each other. These groups give people the opportunity to work together, share their experiences and raise joint concerns. Sometimes the group has a facilitator who supports the running of the group and sometimes these groups are self-supporting.
- Self-Advocacy – Self-Advocacy is representing your own views and wishes and asking for what you need or want. It gives you the ability to make your voice heard and take part in important decisions which are being made about you including how and where you live.
Instructed advocacy is when a person is able to tell the advocate what their needs and wishes are and what support they need. They are able to ask the advocate for support and tell them what actions they would like to be taken on their behalf.
When a person is unable to communicate their wishes and needs for reasons such as temporary unconsciousness, brain injury, dementia etc. an advocate will use techniques such as observing the person, speaking to people who know them well or care for them to build a profile of the person’s needs and wishes and use this to make sure their best interests are represented.