This factsheet explains how an independent advocate can help you put your views across.
April 2023 (FS2)
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Someone to speak up for you
An independent advocate can support and empower you to speak up for yourself, or to speak up on someone’s behalf.
If you find it hard to understand or communicate your care and support needs, for example because of your physical or mental health, learning disability or sensory impairment, an advocate can support you to explain your views to other people. They can also act to make sure your rights and needs are respected so that you can live as independently as possible.
Often, a social care worker can do this for you. Sometimes though, you may want someone who is independent. You can then ask for an independent advocate.
You can contact the independent advocacy service at any time, but there may be situations in which it’s particularly helpful for you. These could include:
- if you disagree with the outcome of your assessment, how your care package has been calculated or a decision about your care
- if you are involved in a ‘safeguarding’ enquiry. See the leaflet: What to do if you think someone is being abused, neglected or exploited.
Different types of independent advocacy
Care Act advocate
A Care Act advocate can support people with their social care assessment, support planning and review, and concerns with safeguarding if the person has a substantial difficulty communicating. This could be if you:
- find it hard to understand and retain important information
- have trouble using the right information to communicate your views, wishes and feelings, or to make decisions
- do not have an ‘appropriate person’ who can speak up for you. An appropriate person is someone you choose, who isn’t already providing care and support to you, and isn’t involved in any allegations of abuse or neglect towards you.
We can refer you to a Care Act Advocate who can help you put your views across or speak up on your behalf. You need to be eligible for East Sussex County Council funded services for this to happen.
Independent mental health advocates
If you are in hospital or live in the community and are on ‘a section’ (when you must stay in hospital or in one place to get treatment), an independent mental health advocate can help speak up for you.
Independent mental capacity advocates
If you find it hard to make decisions and you do not have any friends or family who can speak for you, it is your legal right to have an independent advocate who knows about the Mental Capacity Act. For example, they can help you if you face difficult choices about moving away from your home or are in need of serious medical treatment.
An independent mental capacity advocate can also help if there is a chance you could face harm or abuse because of your difficulty in making decisions. We call this ‘safeguarding’, and there’s more about it in the leaflet: What to do if you think someone is being abused, neglected, or exploited.
How can you get an advocate?
The council pays an organisation called Pohwer to provide independent advocacy services for people with care and support needs and their carers.
You can contact Pohwer directly to access free independent advocacy:
Phone: 0300 456 2370
Other ways to get an advocate
Your social worker can also arrange for a Care Act advocate to support you.
Your social care worker, doctor or nurse can put you in touch with an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate.
An interpreter who speaks your preferred language or can offer specialist communication support (for example, if you are hearing impaired, deaf or blind) can be provided. Advocacy services will take account of your identity and any cultural or communication needs you may have.
Making a complaint
If you want to make a complaint about Adult Social Care, you might want to use an independent advocate to help you understand the complaints process and put your views across effectively.
For more information about how to make a complaint, see Make a complaint or give feedback about Adult Social Care and Health services.
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