The independent advocate must ‘advocate’ on the individual’s behalf and represent their interests. The local authority is expected to recognise that an advocate’s role incorporates challenge and should take reasonable steps to assist the advocate in carrying out their role.
How do your processes, procedures and systems currently support the involvement of independent advocates?
What issues, if any, might this raise for you or your organisation?
Notes Independent advocates must have:
a suitable level of experience: this may, for example, be in non-instructed advocacy or in working with those groups of people who may have substantial difficulty in engaging with assessments and care and support planning
appropriate training: this may, for example, initially be training in advocacy (non-instructed or instructed) or dementia, or working with people with learning disabilities. Once appointed, all independent advocates should be expected to work towards the National Qualification in Independent Advocacy (level 3), including the Care Act module currently in development, within a year of being appointed, and to achieve it in a reasonable amount of time
competency in the task: this will require the advocacy organisation assuring itself that the advocates who work for it are all competent and have regular training and assessments of their competence
integrity and good character: this might be assessed through: interview and selection processes; seeking and scrutinising references prior to employment and on-going DBS checks
the ability to work independently of the local authority or body carrying out assessments, planning or reviews on the local authority’s behalf: this would include the ability to make a judgement about what a person is communicating and what is in a person’s best interests, as opposed to in a local authority’s best interests, and to act accordingly to represent this. The advocate must not be working for the local authority, or for an organisation that is commissioned to carry out assessments, care and support plans or reviews for the local authority
arrangements for regular supervision: this will require that the person meets regularly and sufficiently frequently with a person with a good understanding of independent advocacy who is able to guide their practice and develop their competence.
The third updated version on the Advocacy Quality Performance Mark (QPM) was published on 3 April 2014 by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi). The QPM is a tool for providers of independent advocacy to show their commitment and ability to provide high quality advocacy services – essential for people to have their voices heard, to exercise choice and control and to live independently.
Note that the Department of Health has commissioned the development of a new training course in ‘supported decision making’. Independent advocates will be expected to undertake this to enable them to advocate appropriately.
All local authorities must ensure that there is sufficient provision of independent advocacy to meet their obligations under the Act. There should be sufficient independent advocates available for all people who qualify, and it will be unlawful not to provide someone who qualifies with an independent advocate.