Advocacy – support available to get your voice heard
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is free, independent support to help you to get your voice heard. Advocacy organisations can pair you up with an independent advocate who is on your side if you need support. They can;
- Help you to find information
- Talk things through with you to find out what you want
- Support you to get your views across at appointments and meetings
- Help you to understand your rights
What can an Advocate help with?
- Accessing services such as Health, Housing, Social Care
- Personal budgets
- Protecting you from abuse
- Writing important letters
- Making complaints
Do I need an Advocate?
- Do you want things in your life to change but don’t know where to start?
- Do you feel that you are not being listened to?
- Do you feel like you are on your own?
- Do you need help to speak up for yourself?
What kind of Advocacy is available to me?
Care and Support
If you have difficulty understanding or taking part in discussions and decisions about your care and support, independent advocacy is available.
Newcastle City Council can arrange for an independent advocate if there is no one else to support you, for example a friend or family member. The advocate will support you with understanding the discussions and expressing your views. For example, they may support you through your needs assessment so the Council can work out what support you need to help you stay independent.
Community Advocacy is a service provided for vulnerable adults in Newcastle to help them make informed choices about their lives and speak up for themselves.
People who might benefit from this service include:
- people with physical disabilities
- people with learning disabilities
- older people
Community Advocacy is available to any vulnerable adult living in Newcastle who meets at least 3 of the following criteria:
- needs support making their views known
- is facing a major life change
- has inappropriate support, or lacks support from services or family
- has no independent support who can help with their interests
- has a poor quality of life which is affected by any of the points mentioned above.
Community services in Newcastle include:
• Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Advocacy
• Community Advocacy
• Mental Health Advocacy
• Families Through Crisis Advocacy as well as:
Welfare advocacy and Hate crime advocacy
The following statutory services are provided by Your Voice Counts in Newcastle:
• Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA)
• Independent Mental Health Act Advocacy (IMHA)
• Independent Care Act Advocate (ICAA)
• Relevant Persons Representative (RPR)
Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) Service
Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) represent people who have been assessed and lack the mental capacity to make important decisions. If the person has no one else to support them and represent their views, such as a family member of friend, their social worker, doctor, or other professional should ensure that an IMCA is involved.
Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) will only need to be involved in the following specific circumstances:
- if the decision is about serious medical treatment; or
- if the decision is about a long-term change of residence, for example moving into a hospital or care home.
Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA)
An Independent Mental Health Advocate (IMHA) can support someone who is subject to the Mental Health Act, (also known as detained or ‘sectioned’ under the Act). Advocacy support may also be given to people on supervised community treatment or on guardianship orders, or if their treatment is subject to certain special rules.
IMHAs can provide support to:
- help patients understand the information they are given from the people involved in their care/treatment
- help them to talk to the people involved in their care/treatment
- access information about how the Mental Health Act applies to them
Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA)
The Care Act 2014 sets out particular circumstances where people are by law entitled to an advocate if they do not already have an advocate or an unpaid person such as a friend or family member who they agree can support them.
Under The Act a person is entitled to an advocate if they have ‘Substantial difficulty’ taking part in one or more of the following, either because they have problems understanding or using the relevant information or because they have difficulty expressing their views:
- A social care assessment or review
- Agreeing a social care support plan
- A safeguarding enquiry or safeguarding process because they are felt to be at risk of abuse or neglect
- A carer’s assessment
The role of the advocate is to support the referred person within the specific assessments, meetings or processes that they have been referred for.
Relevant Persons Representative RPR)
RPRs (Relevant Person’s Representatives) work with people in very specific circumstances and can only be appointed by a local authority/Council. An RPR is appointed to support and represent anyone (‘the relevant person’) who is subject to ‘deprivation of liberty’ (DOLS ) authorisation in a setting in which they are continually supervised by staff ; they would not be free to leave should they wish to; for example in a care home or hospital. For a person to be subject to DOLS, the local authority must have first carried out a number of specific assessments and granted DOLS authorisation. Unlike IMCA, RPR eligibility is based on commissioning authority rather than the referred person’s current location.
Advocacy Centre North provide specialist support for people with neurological conditions in Newcastle and Gateshead.
NHS Health Care Complaints
North East NHS Independent Complaints Advocacy (ICA) can help if you feel you have not had the service you expect from the National Health Service (NHS) and want to complain.
Other Useful Information
- Making Decisions (Mental Capacity)
- Looking After Someone
- Citizens Advice Newcastle provide free, independent and confidential advice to help with any issue, including debt, benefits, housing, employment, consumer issues, relationships, family matters, health, education, discrimination, immigration and the law.
- Being heard; a guide to self-advocacy for carers – Free guide from Carers UK
Last updated: April 1, 2019