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Someone to speak for you and advise you - Advocacy

You can have someone who will support and involve you as much as possible in discussions and decisions about your care and support.  They are known as an advocate.

What is advocacy

Advocacy is about:

  • making sure you have the information you need to make the right decisions and choices
  • supporting you to speak up and be heard
  • helping you to get the services and support you need and are entitled to

What an advocate does

An advocate may help you to:

  • understand the assessment, care and support planning, review and safeguarding processes
  • communicate your views, wishes and feelings
  • understand all the information relevant to the decision you need to make
  • make decisions about your care and support arrangements
  • understand your legal rights
  • challenge a decision or process

An advocate won’t make decisions for you. They must listen to what you want and help you to make the decisions.

Who can act as an independent advocate

You can choose a friend or relative to be your advocate as long as they are someone you trust to help you say what’s important to you and who knows your wishes.

An independent advocate must be:

  • suitably experienced and trained
  • independent of the council  and/or its partners
  • not paid to provide your care or treatment.

Who we’ll arrange an independent advocate for

You should be provided with an independent advocate under the Care Act if:

  • We think you’ll have ‘substantial difficulty’ in understanding and making decisions about your care and support plan and,
  • you can’t find an ‘appropriate person’ to speak on your behalf

We will consider you to have ‘substantial difficulty’ if you can’t do any of the following:

  • understand or remember the relevant information 
  • use or weigh up the information 
  • communicate your views, wishes and feelings

You should be provided with an independent mental health advocate (IMHA) if you are:

  • being detained under a section of the Mental Health Act 1983 or are on leave of absence from hospital. This does not include some emergency and short term detentions.
  • on conditional discharge and a restricted patient
  • subject to guardianship
  • on a supervised community treatment order
  • being considered for a section 57 treatment
  • under 18 and being considered for a section 58A treatment like electro-convulsive therapy

You should be provided with an independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) if:

  • you’re aged 16 and over and have been formally assessed to be lacking mental capacity and have no appropriate friends or family
  • when a decision must be made about:
    • providing, withdrawing or withholding of serious medical treatment
    • long term accommodation in hospital, residential nursing or other supported care environment

We may instruct an independent mental capacity advocate when:

  • protective measures are proposed under adult protection procedures for people over 18. 
  • the responsible body - Local Authority or NHS Trust - is reviewing the accommodation arrangements for a person who lacks capacity and there are no appropriate friends and family to consult.

It is unlikely that an IMCA service would be needed if there is already Care Act advocacy in place.

You may lack mental capacity if you have:

  • dementia
  • had a serious brain injury or illness
  • a learning disability
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