Advocates support people to express their views and wishes so that they feel heard and listened to. Advocates support people to speak up for themselves or they can represent them and speak on their behalf. They can help people to get their point of view across and to help them get the services they need and are entitled to.
As a carer, you may need an advocate to support in having your voice heard when decisions are being made about care and support for the person you care for, or you may need support in expressing your wishes when you have your own needs as a carer assessed. This is separate to the right of the person you care for to have an advocate if they need one.
You are entitled to an advocate if you have difficulty advocating for yourself and don’t have a friend or family member who is willing or appropriate to advocate for you.
You must have substantial difficulty in one or more of:
- understanding relevant information
- retaining the information
- using or weighing up the information
- communicating your views, wishes and feelings
Independent Care Act Advocacy support
If you meet the substantial difficulty criteria, you can get support from an Independent Advocate during the processes of assessment, care and support planning, care and support review, safeguarding enquiries and safeguarding adult reviews.
You could be:
- An adult who needs care and support
- A carer of an adult who needs care and support
- A child who is approaching transition to adult services
- A parent carer of a child in transition
You could be a parent carer:
- Having your own needs as a carer considered as part of a whole family assessment
- Having a Care Act assessment of your own needs
- Whose child’s needs are being assessed and reviewed by families and children’s services
- Whose child has or is in the process of being assessed for a My Plan (Education, health and care planning)
What an Independent Care Act Advocate does:
- Supports the person to understand and be fully involved in the process
- Communicates the person’s wishes, views and feelings
- Supports the person to take decisions and challenge those made by the local authority
- Helps the person understand their rights
- If appropriate, looks at relevant health and social care records
- Talks to those who can help, with permission, unless the person does not have capacity
- Consults the family and others if the person does not have capacity
- Supports and represents the person in the safeguarding process
What an Independent Care Act Advocate can’t do
- Make people do what you want them to. We can only help you to clearly express what you want and why or explain this on your behalf
- Make decisions for you or tell you what to do
- Solve your problems for you
- Give legal or financial advice
- Mediation, counselling or befriending
- Make judgements about you
- Tell other people what you have told us without your consent
Advocacy for the person you care for
Wiltshire Advocacy people can also support the person you care for with NHS complaints, Independent Mental Health Advocacy for people who are under section in hospital or the community and Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy for people who have been assessed as lacking capacity to make certain decisions. You can find out more about these services on the Wiltshire Advocacy People website or by calling them on 0330 440 9000.
Advocacy for Children including Young Carers
Children have as much right as an adult to be listened to when decisions are being made about your life. What you feel and want is very important.
You can usually have an advocate to help you speak up about what you feel and want if you:
- Are a Child in Care
- Are leaving Care
- Have a disability or other need
- Are a young carer
- Want to make a complaint about your social care
- Listens to you
- Explains information
- Finds out your wishes and feelings
- Helps you tell others what you want or tells them for you, if you want the advocate to do this
- Gets answers to your questions
- Won’t tell you what to do
- Is independent which means they won’t make any decisions about or for you
General advocacy support in and from the community
Sometimes decisions about how your health and social care needs are met aren’t covered by the statutory advocacy services or you might have substantial difficulty expressing your views, wishes and needs in relation to benefits, housing or education. Wiltshire Advocacy People might still be able to offer you advocacy support or support you to advocate for yourself.
If you are unsure as to whether we can help you, please ask us. Where we are aware of specialist services that might be better placed to support you, we will discuss these services with you and either provide contact details or make a referral on your behalf.
Community Advocates (sometimes called General Advocates) if you have a disability or are in a situation where you feel vulnerable and unable to speak up. It includes Community Mental Health Advocacy, Learning Disability Advocacy and Advocacy for Carers.
Peer Advocates who are people who have ‘lived experience’. This means they might have the same disability or have been through a situation similar to you.
Citizen Advocates who support people for a much longer time than other advocates. It is a partnership between the advocate and the person and usually lasts for as long as both want it to.
If you have substantial difficulty advocating for yourself, don’t have a friend or family member who is willing or appropriate to advocate for you, you can request advocacy support from Wiltshire Advocacy People by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling them on 0330 440 9000.
Swan Advocacy can be contacted for help with creating a Living Well Plan. More information can be found on the Swan Advocacy website.