Advocacy services

Advocacy services

Advocacy is taking action and giving support to vulnerable people so they can:  

  • have their say
  • secure their rights
  • have their interests represented
  • get the support they need.

There are many different types of advocacy services but an advocate is generally independent and free from conflicts of interest.

A guide to self-advocacy for carers

Carers UK have produced a self-advocacy guide for carers titled 'Being Heard'. It has been created to help carers navigate a confusing system, get their message across and cope with complex thoughts and emotions when trying to support the person they care for and deal with professionals involved in their care.

Independent Community Advocacy

If you or the person you care for need help voicing what you want to say or being listened to, or you are having difficulties using public services, you can get support from the Independent Community Advocacy Service.

Non-statutory advocacy - support for carers

Under the Care Act 2014, carers are entitled to advocacy support. This means getting support from an independent person to help you express your views and wishes and ensure your voice is heard.  You can use an advocate to help you liaise with health and social care professionals or to access local services such as housing, health services and employment services.

You could also get support from an advocate if you feel you need help supporting someone who lives in a residential care setting, for example, help to voice your views about their care plan.

If you’re having difficulties getting your voice heard or being listened to in respect of your role as a carer or for the person you are caring for, you can get support from the Independent Community Advocacy Service by:

The services provided by the Independent Community Advocacy Service are known as 'non-statutory advocacy'. This service may also be available to the person you look after if they require advocacy support as an individual. 

Advocacy rights under the Care Act

In April 2015 the Care Act became law.

The Act placed a requirement on local authorities with statutory responsibility for social care (Derbyshire County Council) to ensure that clients are fully involved in their social care assessments, reviews and the development of their support plans, and any safeguarding enquiries and reviews.

If someone is likely to have 'substantial difficulty' in being involved, and if they do not have an 'appropriate person' to support and represent them, then the authority has a duty to arrange independent advocacy.

In most cases, as a carer you will be able to support the person you care for and act as an ‘appropriate person’ . However, there may be circumstances where this isn’t possible. If that is the case, the reasons for this will be discussed with you. You can speak to the Adult Care worker of the person you look after for more information.

Independent Specialist Advocacy 

For people with mental ill health there are specialist advocacy services.

People receiving mental health treatment in hospital

Under the Mental Health Act Derbyshire County Council Adult Care have a duty to provide Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHA) for people who are detained. This includes people who are subject to Guardianship or Community Treatment Orders. The service is free and confidential

The services of IMHAs are also available for Derbyshire residents who are informal patients in NHS or independent hospitals. The IMHA can be contacted by a patient or a family member or friend. They can provide advice and support on:

  • the Mental Health Act and how it is applied
  • the types of treatment that might be offered
  • a person's legal rights
  • the tribunal process.

The IMHA service includes helping people to exercise their rights, which can include representing them and speaking on their behalf. IMHAs may also support patients in a range of ways to ensure they can participate in the decisions that are made about their care and treatment.

The IMHA service is currently provided by Derbyshire Mind

People who do not have capacity to make their own decisions

This service aims to provide additional safeguards for people who lack the capacity to take decisions in certain specific, important situations. They may also be particularly vulnerable because they have no close relative or friends, or any other person to protect their interests.

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) support and represent people in this situation. They look at the way particular decisions are being made but do not make the decisions on someone's behalf. Across Derbyshire the IMCA service is provided by Derbyshire MIND.

The IMCA service also provide representatives as part of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLs) requirements which ensure that someone is only deprived of their liberty when it is in their best interest.

To access the services, you can download a referral form from the Derbyshire Mind Website or tel: 01332 623732.

NHS independent complaints advocacy

This service provides independent support to assist any adult who wishes to make a complaint about an NHS funded service, either regarding their own treatment or that of a family member, child or carer. This advocacy service is free and confidential. It will help people understand their rights, assist with complaints, applications and support people at meetings.

We also have further advice about making complaints and having your say about care and health services.

Mental Health Carer Forums

There are two forums, North Derbyshire and Derby City and South Derbyshire Forum. They give carers an opportunity to meet and discuss issues with representatives from organisations such as the Mental Health Trust and Derbyshire County Council who are in regular attendance. Meetings are followed by informal social gathering which gives carers a rare opportunity to chat and share experiences without the fear of stigma and prejudice. 

Other helpful websites

This information was last updated on 05/05/2022

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