You’ve reached us outside of our opening hours. Book a free telephone consultation and one of our care planning experts will give you a call whenever is convenient for you.
Advocates in health and social care – your complete guide to getting someone on your side
- An advocate is an independent expert who can help support you in navigating the social care system.
- As well as provide practical advice, they can work on your behalf to ensure all the rules are being followed correctly, and you’re getting everything you’re entitled to.
- A lot of the time, advocacy is free – provided by a range of independent charities. It can be a really useful resource when approaching the care system for the first time.
Advocates in health and social care are there to support you through complex processes. And it’s no secret that it’s not easy trying to navigate your way through the health and social care system.
That’s not to say that health and social care professionals won’t try and look out for you – they usually will – but oftentimes they’re just so busy that they don’t have enough time to pay you the attention you deserve – and need.
It’s not easy trying to do things like arrange a care needs assessments or financial assessment, organise your personal budget, manage your direct payments, or make a complaint or lodge an appeal.
Doing things like these often requires a professional understanding of the law and how the system works. Doing it yourself can be tough, particularly when you have your own day-to-day life to get on with.
That’s where independent advocates come in. They make sure your rights and interests are protected.
What is independent advocacy?
Independent advocacy is when someone from a not-for-profit organization gives you advice and support on how to make the right choices for you when it comes to decisions on your health and social care.
Ultimately, the role of an advocate is to support people through complex processes. There are five main types of advocacy service:
Care and support advocacy
Getting care from your local council can be complicated. It can be really helpful to have an advocate in your corner. They’ll help get the best for you by working with your social worker or the social services team within your local authority.
There are some key moments in your care planning journey through when an advocate can provide really helpful support:
- Organising and attending your care needs assessment
- Making and reviewing your care and support plan
- Helping you arrange your personal budget
- Appealing a decision
- Making a safeguarding enquiry or arranging a Safeguarding Adults Review
- Help to ensure you get your desired care option – for example, live-in care
Want to find an advocate?
We can help. If you’d like Elder to take care of referring you to an advocate in your area that provides the services you need, we can take care of that for you. Call us today.
At all of these stages, your advocate will help you understand what is happening and to give your views. They’ll also help ensure the process is being carried out in-line with Care Act 2014.
You should be referred to an independent advocate by your council if they think you will have ‘substantial difficulty’ participating in the process being assessed for or arranging social care services.
However, even if you aren’t, and even if you don’t think you would have ‘substantial difficulty’ in being part of the process, we strongly encourage you to reach out to an independent advocate for support anyway.
They’re trained professionals who know the system inside out. Having their support is always a bonus, and often a very influential one that will have a big impact on the decision-making process.
A community advocate is someone who helps you if you:
- Need help to speak up for yourself or give your views
- Have problems getting people to listen to you
- Feel vulnerable or think you’re being discriminated against
- Need help to access services that can support you with your health, wellbeing or independence
A community advocate can help you by writing letters, making phone calls, and by arranging and going to meetings.
Get the expert view on funding
How to get what you deserve: An interview with Andrew Farley on NHS Continuing Healthcare
Andrew Farley is one of the UK’s foremost experts on NHS Continuing Healthcare funding (CHC). Along with his business partner, he runs Farley Dwek solicitors, where he leads the CHC team.
On your side: The power of advocacy in health and social care
Helen Moulinos is Chief Executive of advocacy charity, POhWER. It supports people who find it difficult to express their views or get the support they need.
Understanding equity release in later life with Jim Boyd, CEO at The Equity Release Council
We talk to CEO Jim Boyd about the evolution of equity release and the changing perception of housing wealth and its potential in the social and healthcare space.
To save, or not to save: The question of prioritising pensions and provision for later life
Hayley James’ research at the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) looks at our experience of pensions – and asks key questions around provision for later life.
An issue-based advocate is someone who helps you if you would like to make a complaint about the NHS, or if you’ve experienced domestic or sexual abuse.
When it comes to the NHS an advocate can:
- Provide information about how to complain including who to complain to
- Explain the complaints process and your options at each stage
- Supporting in you to write letters to relevant organisations or bodies
- Prepare you to be ready for complaint meetings and go along with you
- Help you to refer your complaint to the Health Service Ombudsman if you are not happy with the response you receive from the NHS service – for example, NHS Continuing Healthcare funding
- Signpost you to other organisations which could provide further support
Domestic or sexual abuse
And, when it comes to issues of domestic or sexual abuse, an advocate can be an invaluable resource, especially to vulnerable people or those finding it difficult to cope:
- Listen to you and give you emotional support
- Support you to create a safety plan
- Liaise with different agencies involved in keeping you safe from further harm
- Support you to press charges against the perpetrator if you would like to
Get support from POhWER
POhWER helps people who, because of disability, illness, social exclusion and other challenges, find it difficult to express their views or get the support they need.
They’re a charity and the advocacy, information and advice services they provide are free, independent and confidential.
Independent mental health advocacy (IMHA)
If you’re detained under certain sections of the Mental Health Act 1983 or are a subject to a Community Treatment Order (CTO) or guardianship, you will qualify for support from an Independent Mental Health Advocate.
An Independent Mental Health Advocate can help you:
- Access information about your rights under the Mental Health Act and other aspects of your care and treatment
- Make your voice heard
- Appeal a decision
- Access your medical records if you would like them to
Independent mental capacity advocacy (IMCA)
An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) supports and represents you if you lack mental capacity to make decisions on your own because of the way your mind or brain has been affected by an illness, disability or injury.
An IMCA can help you when big decisions need to be made about:
- Your medical treatment. They will represent you when decisions are being made about whether certain treatments should start, continue or end.
- Changing your accommodation. They will represent you if the NHS or council want to move you to hospital for more than 28 days or other accommodation, such as a care home, for more than 8 weeks.
- Safeguarding incidents. If you are involved in incident requiring a Safeguarding Adults from Abuse decision to be made, your advocate will represent you.
How do I find advocates in health and social care?
There are a variety of national and local charities that provide independent advocacy and the first thing to do is just get in touch. You can do this on behalf of a family member, or for yourself.
We recommend that you can reach out to the Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL). OPAAL is a national framework organisation which aims to set the standards and quality frameworks to be adopted by independent advocacy providers. Click here to see the advocates listed by OPAAL in your area.
In Scotland there is also the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA).
Once you’re in touch, your advocate will let you know which type of advocate you need and what the next steps are. Typically this will involve speaking with you to learn as much about your care as possible and what the current situation is.
They may also request to speak with whichever health and social care professionals are involved in your care. This is just so that they can build up as clear a picture as possible about what’s going on and how to help you.
Why should you turn to support from advocates in health and social care?
The simple fact is that it makes a huge difference. People who turn to independent advocates are at a significant advantage to those who don’t.
Care is complicated and if the time comes for you to go to hospital or a care home, whether for a short time or a longer time, it’s likely that big decisions will be made about your future.
It’s vital that, as well as your friends and family, you have a trained professional in your corner. When you do, you’ll know exactly what your rights are and what the potential consequences of your decisions are.
And, what’s more, you’ll have another person there to support you emotionally too if that’s what you want. Independent advocates are all usually lovely people who want nothing more than seeing you live the best life for you.
Whether it’s getting up on the dance floor, forming lasting friendships or offering complete peace of mind to loved ones, a live-in carer can be transformative. These videos include families discussing why they chose 24-hour care at home and how it was arranged, as well as snapshots of how those receiving care find it.
Read more about Elder:
How Elder works
Arranging care for someone can be confusing and complex. In a world that’s difficult to navigate, we’re here to help. Here’s how care with Elder works.
Every family we help are unique. For each, there are different triggers that finally motivate them to give us a call. Here are some of their stories.
Our pricing makes live-in care as affordable as possible by ensuring your family only pays for the support you actually need.
We go to great lengths to ensure all the carers with us are of the highest standard. Read our carer stories to discover why they joined the profession.
What is live-in care?
Live-in care is the new standard in elderly support, and a safer, affordable alternative to the care home. Here’s an overview of what it is.
Paying for care
Paying for care: A four-step plan to get funding
Get clarity on paying for care With our four-step plan, getting the…
NHS Continuing Healthcare – how to get all your care costs covered
NHS Continuing Healthcare – your complete guide NHS Continuing Healthcare covers every…
Elderly benefits – get what you’re entitled to
Benefits for the elderly – how to top up your income Whether…
Local authority funding – how most people fund their care
Local authority care funding – everything you need to know If you…
Using an equity release scheme to fund live-in care
Using an equity release scheme to fund live-in care Paying for care…
Advocates in health and social care
Advocates in health and social care – your complete guide to getting…
Discover every detail about live-in care in our 32-page brochure
Expert views from the Elder Magazine:
1 in 3 elderly people more lonely in wake of COVID-19
Our recent study into the impact of COVID-19 on the elderly has found a huge increase in loneliness since the lockdown was put in place.
Government coronavirus advice – where is it going wrong?
Robert Dingwall is a Professor at Nottingham Trent University and one of the UK’s leading sociologists, we spoke to him about how the UK could have been better prepared for Coronavirus.
16 stimulating dementia activities to try with your loved one
Activities that stimulate those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s have a lot of positive benefits, such as boosting their general wellbeing and helping lower feelings of depression, irritability and anxiety.
The Impact of Social Isolation on the Human Brain
Sarita Robinson is one of the UK’s leading researchers into the neurophysiological effects of stress and isolation. We spoke to her about how COVID-19 lockdown conditions can impact the brain.
Egon Cossou on Being a Family Carer and BBC presenter
Producer and presenter Egon Cossou combines a busy job at the BBC with caring for his mother, we talked to him about the joys of reconnecting with cherished parents in later life
The Psychological Effects of Self-Isolating on the Elderly
Dr Jackman is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, specialising in Neuropsychology and with the psychology of older adults. We spoke to her about how people can manage the effects of self-isolation on their mental health.
Self-isolating While Providing and Receiving Care
Selina is a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine specialising in health system advocacy. We spoke to Selina about protecting the carer/care recipient dynamic during the lockdown.