The Care Act 2014 concerns the care and support of adults and carers.
The main purpose of the Care Act is to support people with health and care to get the outcomes that matter to them in their life. It sets out how people’s needs will be assessed and addressed fairly.
The act recognises that not everyone will be able to be meaningfully involved in the assessment, safeguarding processes and care and support planning and review, without advocacy support.
It recognises that independent advocacy helps a person have as much control as possible over their life. It helps them understand information, say what they want and what they need.
The Care Act will help to improve people’s independence and wellbeing. It makes clear that local authorities must provide or arrange services that help prevent people developing needs for care and support or delay people deteriorating such that they would need ongoing care and support.
Who can Access an Independent Advocate?
To be entitled to an independent advocate under the Care Act a person must meet 2 conditions:
- the person has substantial difficulty in being fully involved with their assessment, care and support planning and review or safeguarding
- there is no one appropriate and available to support and represent their wishes.
What does substantial difficulty mean?
The person must have ‘substantial difficulty’ in any one of the following areas:
- understanding relevant information
- retaining information long enough to be able to weigh up their options and make decisions (this is also called ‘substantial difficulty in engaging’)
- not be able to understand the advantages or disadvantages of the options available to them
- communicating their views, wishes and feelings.
What does appropriate and available to support mean?
The Care Act says it is not enough to love the person and know them well. They have to be able to support the person to be involved in their care and support. They cannot be employed by the local authority or paid to support the person in another role.
Some people may not have anyone suitable or the person may not want them to be involved.
If the person meets these 2 conditions, the local authority must refer for an independent advocate. In Leeds this means that a social worker will make a referral to Advonet. Advonet will then allocate an advocate.
There are 3 situations where an advocate must be involved even if there is an appropriate individual to support them. These are
- if a person is in hospital for more than 4 weeks
- if a person is in a care home for more than 8 weeks
- if there is a disagreement between the local authority and the appropriate individual and all agree that the involvement of an advocate would benefit the person.
If you are not sure about whether or not you should be entitled to an advocate please speak to ASC on 0113 222 4401 or Advonet on 0113 244 0606.