How an Independent Advocate Works

Step one: Meeting with an advocate

Once you have contacted an advocacy organisation, an advocate should arrange a private meeting with you to discuss the support you need. If you live in a care home, sheltered housing or are a patient on a hospital ward, they should first, for security reasons, notify the care home manager, charge nurse or warden of their planned visit. They should explain:

  • their role
  • how they would support you
  • what the advocacy organisation does.

The conversation should be completely confidential so that you can speak openly to the advocate about the issue(s) affecting you.

Step two: Permission to advocate your views

Although the independent advocate should listen to the views of others around you (your GP, carers, social worker, and family), your definition of the problem and the outcome you want, should be their most important concern.

Once the independent advocate knows your views and wishes, they need your permission to advocate for you.

If you give permission then, and only then, does the person become your independent advocate. The independent advocate should then ask you what outcome you want, i.e. how you would like the problem to be resolved. This outcome is the ultimate aim of independent advocacy, unless you decide to change it at a later date based on ongoing information and circumstances. Your advocate should help make sure that you are always fully informed of any developments to the situation.

Step three: Speaking out

The independent advocate should support you to speak out or represent your views, wishes and rights to those involved in your care, e.g. professionals, carers and family.

The advocate should ensure that your views and wishes are conveyed to the people you want to express them to (or to support you to be able to say it yourself, if you want to).

This could be done by letter, telephone or in person (e.g. by attending a meeting with you or on your behalf).

Who is in charge in advocacy work?

You should always be in charge. You have given your view of the problem and decided the outcome you want. You can also end the advocacy partnership at any time, whether the outcome you asked for has been achieved or not. The independent advocate should not try to persuade you to continue the process, whatever stage you have reached. It is your decision.

It is the role of the advocate to inform you of all information relating to you and your situation, so that you can continue to make informed choices and decisions even though the nature of the original issue may change along the way. It is important that the independent advocate asks about your views and wishes and checks what outcome you want, on an ongoing basis. The independent advocate should then continue to voice your continuing or changed views to the other parties involved.

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