Sometimes people need help expressing their wishes or understanding information around health and care support decisions. An advocate is someone who can help with this.
An advocate is someone who supports and represents you when dealing with issues to do with your:
- Care and support
- Medical treatment
- Mental health needs
- Legal matters
An advocate could be a family member, carer or friend. You can also have an independent advocate, if there isn't anyone else.
Who needs an advocate
If you, or someone you care for, finds it hard to do any of the following, an advocate can help you:
- understand and remember important information
- use that information in daily life
- express views, wishes or feelings.
When you might need one
You might need an advocate when you meet with any of the following people:
- social workers
- benefits advisers
- other professionals.
An independent advocate is someone who will talk to you one-to-one and support you to voice your views and wishes, or express them on your behalf.
They can be:
- A relative
- A friend
- A neighbour
- A volunteer from an advocacy organisation
- Someone who is paid to be an independent advocate
What an independent advocate can't do
- Offer you counselling
- Influence you to make a decision
- Make a decision for you
- Persuade you to do what other people want you to do
- Doubt what you say
- Speak for you when you want to speak for yourself
- Provide social support
If you don't have a friend or relative to represent you when making informed decisions, you're entitled to a statutory advocate.
There are four types of statutory advocates. You can find more information about them on the POhWER website.
The four types include:
- Care Act Advocacy
- Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
- Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
- Independent Health Complaints Advocacy (IHCA)
Advocates for people with learning disabilities
If you or someone you know has a learning disability and needs an advocate, contact Your Say Advocacy Service. There is a cost for this service, but they are happy to receive referrals or enquiries from anyone and can also help secure funding for you.