The council has to make sure that, as far as possible, you are involved in decisions made about you and your care and support. This includes helping you to understand how you can be involved, how you can contribute and take part and sometimes lead or direct the process. You should be an active partner in your care and support assessment, your care and support planning and any reviews.

No matter how complex your needs are, we will:

  • involve you
  • help you express your wishes and feelings
  • support you to weigh up options, and make your own decisions.

In order to decide whether we think you need support to be involved, we must consider whether you would have substantial difficulty in any of the four following areas. If, because of an impairment or disturbance of the mind or brain, you are unable to do any one of these four (with regard to a decision that needs to be made), then you would be deemed to lack capacity to make the decision for yourself.

Understanding relevant information

Many people can be supported to understand relevant information, if it is presented appropriately and if time is taken to explain it. Some people, however, will not be able to understand relevant information, for example if they have mid-stage or advanced dementia.

Retaining information

If a person is unable to retain information long enough to be able to weigh up options and make decisions, then they are likely to have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.

Using or weighing the information as part of engaging

A person must be able to weigh up information, in order to participate fully and express preferences for or choose between options. For example, they need to be able to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of moving into a care home or accepting or rejecting medical treatment. If they are unable to do this, they will have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.

Communicating their views, wishes and feelings

A person must be able to communicate their views, wishes and feelings whether by talking, writing, signing or any other means, to aid the decision making process and to make priorities clear. If they are unable to do this, they will have substantial difficulty in engaging and being involved in the process.

Substantial difficulty in any of these four areas (as defined by the Care Act means you are likely to be unable to be fully involved with care and support processes. If this is the case, we need to consider whether there is someone else appropriate to support you as an ‘advocate’.

An advocate may be a family member, carer or friend or, if there isn’t anyone appropriate, a professional independent advocate. This advocate must support and represent you in meetings with doctors and other professionals.

You may have a legal right to a ‘statutory advocate’ to speak on your behalf if it is agreed that someone is required to support you to express your wishes or speak on your behalf. If you don't already have a friend or family member who can support you in this way, we can arrange for you do have an advocate.

An independent advocate may be free of charge or paid for. It is someone who will talk to you one-to-one and then support you to voice your views and wishes or express them on your behalf. An independent advocate can be a neighbour, friend, relative, a volunteer from an advocacy organisation or a paid independent advocate.

An independent advocate can:

  • Listen to you
  • Help you speak out or speak on your behalf to have your views, wishes and rights taken into account by your family, carers or professionals in any decision that affects your life
  • Write letters and make telephone calls with or for you
  • Prepare for an attend meetings with you
  • Make sure that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions

 An independent advocate cannot:

  • Offer counselling
  • Influence you to make a decision or 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

You have the right to a statutory advocate if you are unable to make informed choices (this is called ‘lacking mental capacity’) or you have been detained under the Mental Health Act. Ask your mental health case worker whether you are entitled to one.

There are two types of statutory advocates for people experiencing mental health difficulties. To find out more contact our local partner Swan Advocacy on 01722 341 851:

Independent mental capacity advocates (IMCA)
You may need an IMCA if you have been said to ‘lack mental capacity. They will help you with decisions about:

Independent mental health advocates (IMHA)
You may want an IMHA if you are detained under the Mental Health Act to:

  • Support you at ward rounds
  • Support you at care reviews
  • Support you at appeals
  • Help you understand your rights and treatment

Please contact our local partner Your Say Advocacy on 01275 374703 if you need an advocate for someone with a learning disability.

However, if you have a learning disability and already have an advocate provided by our local partner Your Say Advocacy, please contact them on 01275 374703.

When you are dealing with difficult issues about things like your care and support, medical treatment, housing or money or legal matters.

At meetings with people like doctors, social workers, solicitors, banks, benefits advisers.

 

If you have not yet spoken to anyone about your care and support needs, find out how to get some information and advice.

In Bath and North East Somerset Swan Advocacy is providing our Care Act advocacy service and mental health advocates.

However, if you have a learning disability and already have an advocate provided by our local partner Your Say Advocacy, please contact them on 01275 374703.

If you have a learning disability but don’t yet have an advocate, please contact Swan Advocacy.

Find the information or support you are looking for on Wellbeing Options - a website containing lots of useful information about local care providers, clubs, services and activities, along with links to other useful websites and resources.

Independent Age guide on independent advocacy

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