What is an advocacy service, and how does it work?
There are a number of resources available for those who may need some additional help when it comes to making important life decisions. Advocacy services are one of those resources, and are there to ensure that you fully understand your care and support.
What is the role of an advocate?
Advocacy services are independent, which means they don’t work for councils or the NHS, and they are free from any conflicts of interest.
The role of an advocate is to assist you and ensure that you have the confidence and skills you need to voice your concerns or ask relevant questions about your care.
Advocates can help with things such as attending assessments with you, writing letters on your behalf or helping you to communicate in situations where you might not feel comfortable in doing so yourself.
What can advocates do?
Advocates can help you to talk about your feelings and express your wishes when it comes to planning your support. If you’re struggling to make decisions, they can also help you to figure out the best options.
Advocates may be able to help you with:
- understanding the support process
- being there during the planning of your support
- helping you through any major changes or decisions
- accompanying you during safeguarding reviews
- supporting you to protect your rights
- helping you to challenge any decisions made, if you don’t agree with them.
Who can use an advocacy service?
Advocacy services are there for anyone who may feel like they need extra support, particularly for those who find it difficult to understand care and support, or are not comfortable speaking up for themselves.
Advocacy services are an important resource for those who are looking to move into supported living or residential care, or for people who already receive support but are looking to make changes to their level of care.
Where can I find an advocate?
You can find professional advocacy services across the country, with charities and organisations offering independent advocacy and support services. Here are just a few:
POhWER offers independent advocacy services throughout England. They work with people living with autism, physical disabilities, sensory impairment and mental health conditions.
The Advocacy People is an independent charity which provides a range of services across the south of England for those with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental health conditions.
RETHINK provides support to those with mental health conditions who may need assistance in making informed decisions and getting access to the services they’re entitled to.
You can find a full list of resources and available advocacy services here.
How do Lifeways support advocacy?
Along with helping you to find the most appropriate advocacy services should you need them, Lifeways has adopted several approaches which empower the people we support to be their own advocates.
Co-production at Lifeways has been designed to enable the people we support to have a voice and help shape their support.
“You can’t offer the outcome people want, or offer personalised support, if you’re not listening to the experiences of the people you’re supporting. I’m really proud to work for Lifeways, as we’re committed to personalisation, and to continually learning and reflecting.” said Jodie, Lead Quality Manager at Lifeways.
Our co-production approach includes the opportunity for the people we support to help recruit their team: from getting involved in creating the job adverts, helping to choose the shortlisted candidates, to the option of attending the formal interview process and asking any questions they may have.
Another part of our approach was to recruit a voluntary team of Quality Checkers. Although our services are inspected by government regulators, we wanted to give the people we support the opportunity to inspect the quality of what we provide too.
Our Quality Checkers receive training and support, and are given a checklist which includes sections around the standard of support given, their support team, and any other observations about quality standards in the service. As an organisation, our aim is to have a Quality Checker assessing the quality of the service we provide for every person we support.
We believe that every person we support has the right to have a voice, feel included, and the opportunity to play a part in shaping the support they receive. Having access to advocacy services helps people to feel more in control of their lives.
To find out more about the support Lifeways provides, please get in touch with our friendly team, or start your search to find support near you.