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The Organisation recognises the right of the individual service user to live the lifestyle of his / her choosing where it is felt that the service user is safely able to do so and with due regard to the his / her right to take risks. Specifically, this Policy summarises the Organisation’s philosophy towards the recognition of an advocate for an individual service user where the service user’s mental impairment may prevent him / her from handling his /her own affairs and making informed decisions:

1. In specific cases the Organisation recognises the right of the service user to appoint an advocate to represent him / her where care records indicate that this would be a beneficial course of action. An advocate may be:

1.1 A relative or family member.

1.2 Other external appointees, to include:

  • legal representative (solicitor / attorney).

  • minister of religion.

  • local advocacy groups (contact Age UK / MIND / Citizen's Advice Bureau, etc).

  • an advocate from an independent advocacy service (contact the local council for possible contacts).

A Care Worker or other staff member may NOT act as a service user’s advocate.

2. An advocate is an individual, who is independent of health and social services and other Regulatory Authorities, who will represent the service user in the following ways. In all cases, the advocate will provide these services without offering personal opinion:

  • to promote their best interests in dealings with health and social services;

  • to involve and assist service users in making decisions affecting their lives;

  • to explore choices and options;

  • to defend and promote their rights and responsibilities;

  • to assist in accessing appropriate information and services.

3. The role of the advocate may include:

3.1 Representing the service user’s best interests where the service user is too confused or mentally / physically frail or sick to make informed choices or exercise their rights for themselves. Refer to the Policies on the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Policy Nos 3719, 3720, and 3721.

3.2 Representing the service user’s interests with outside bodies such as accountants and solicitors, and in consultative issues with the management of the Organisation (complaints, etc).

3.3 Advising relatives / carers where it is felt that a service user may be genuinely at risk through activities such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption etc. (always taking into consideration the rights of the service user to take appropriate risks and to lead a lifestyle of his / her choosing).

3.4 For service users from ethnic minority groups, to act as the co-ordinator between the service user and Care Staff to explain any special cultural needs that need to be considered and respected within the Care Plan, possibly even to the extent of providing a translation service.

4. Wherever possible, an advocate will be "matched", through personal choice or informed appointment, to a service user with due consideration of gender, age, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, religion and personal interests.

5. Where an advocate is appointed, appropriate notes are made in the service user’s Care Plan. The advocate may become involved in the development of the service user’s Care Plan where it is thought appropriate.

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