Advocacy – is anyone actually getting any, now it’s a statutory duty?

My training team is continuing to train all over the country (albeit able once again to draw breath, now, between outings)  and has yet to find any council where the staff are completely clear about how to access an independent advocate to do the specific Care Act function of supporting involvement.

Councils seem to have expanded their IMCA, or other informal advocacy contracts, or grant funded subsidies to local organisations, rather than set up brand new arrangements – so we are wondering:

a) whether there are enough knowledgeable advocates out there, to avoid delaying assessments and care planning sessions or revision meetings?

(Safeguarding advocacy is slightly different, in so far as the government’s Guidance says that an advocate need not be in place before the start of a safeguarding process.)

b) whether the ones who had already got the old style advocacy qualifications have got any updated Care Act ‘legal issues’ awareness?

c) whether the advocates out there are meeting the independence requirement in the regulation that they are not ‘otherwise working’ for the council (- I am not sure how they’d know much about adult social care, if they weren’t, mind you!?)

d) and whether there is any difference in the specifications being put out there for informal advocacy for capacitated, but vulnerable people, as opposed to IMCA or IMHA statutory advocacy or the new, formal, Care Act independent advocacy.

Funding the last three types of advocacy is mandatory, on certain judgements being made about the facts.

For IMCA advocacy you have to be mentally lacking in capacity on the relevant statutory issue; for IMHA advocacy, you have to be covered by particular provisions of the Mental Health Act.

But for Care Act advocacy, you need substantial difficulty, in relation to one of four main stages of the customer journey, and it’s only for people not supported by others who are appropriate and willing to do it informally, if the person in question consents. But at least this legal right extends to people with lesser impairments or illnesses as would trigger those other kinds of support for involvement.

Please do tell us what you think is actually going on in your area!!

Belinda Schwehr

About Belinda Schwehr

Belinda has been a lawyer (both a barrister and then a solicitor advocate), a law lecturer at a university, and a trainer and consultant specialising in Adults' Social Care legal framework issues. She first became interested in social care law when the Gloucestershire case was running between 1995 and 1997, never having met a real live social worker, before that point! She regards social care as the most interesting field of law she has ever been associated with, combining aspects of public law, the regulation of power, economics, management skills, EU law, procurement, criminal law, incapacity law, land law and contract, and doesn't expect ever to tire of the stuff. If the Care Act is going to be the last word on it, however, she would like to think it was worth all that sitting there and getting fatter whilst thinking about how it should all hang together! She does glass craftwork and house renovations for a hobby, has one son in his twenties, and about 5000 online friends... soon to be 50,000, with any luck!

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