Aim of the Specialist Advocacy Service

hammer and books

The aim of the specialist advocacy service is to meet the duties placed upon Derby City Council under the Care Act 2014 and to make available non-statutory advocacy services for targeted group’s, (those with Mental Health Issues, Learning Disabilities, Autism and Physical and Sensory Impairments


The role of the specialist advocacy service

The role of the independent advocate is to support and represent the person and to facilitate their involvement in the key processes and interactions with Derby City Council and other organisations as required for the safeguarding enquiry or SAR.

The specialist advocacy service will signpost individuals to appropriate support and where appropriate encourage community based solutions.

The service will provide an independent advocate to support and represent a person for the purpose of assisting their involvement if the two conditions specified under the Care Act 2014 are met and if the individual is required to take part in one or more of the following processes described in the Care Act:

  • a needs assessment under section 9 of the Care Act
  • a carer’s assessment under section 10
  • the preparation of a care and support or support plan under section 25
  • a review of a care and support or support plan under section 27
  • a safeguarding enquiry under section 68
  • a safeguarding adult review under section 68
  • From 2016 the potential for advocacy to support an appeal against a local authority decision under Part 1 of the Care Act (this is subject to further consultation).

The two conditions specified by the Care Act 2014 are: If it appears to the authority that a person has care and support needs, then a judgement must be made as to whether that person has substantial difficulty in being involved. If they do, is there an appropriate individual to support them?

The Care Act defines four areas in any one of which a substantial difficulty might be found, which are set out below:

  • Understanding relevant information

The first area to consider is ‘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

The second area to consider is ‘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

The third area is ‘using or weighing the information as part of the process of being

involved.’ 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 terminating an undermining relationship. 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

The fourth area involves ‘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 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.

Independent Advocacy duties under the Care Act apply to individuals in all settings, including those living in the community and in care homes. It also applies to those who may be self-funding their own care.

The provider will manage the delivery of specialist advocacy services that are available for targeted groups, those with Mental Health Issues, Learning Disabilities, Autism and Physical and Sensory Impairments support which will:

  • provide one to one, crisis and short term specialist advocacy that is a time-limited, issue focused intervention to address specific issues or situations or a number of issues until the work is resolved. In each case the length of support provided will depend on individual need
  • provide where appropriate a formal agreement between the customer and advocate, the advocate will only act as directed by this agreement
  • provide individuals with complex needs or who have a complex issue will be provided with appropriate support. This support will also be time limited but based on a full assessment of advocacy need
  • be delivered through a range of methods (face to face, internet, telephone) and in a range of settings. It may require the advocate to attend appointments with service professionals with the service user or on their behalf
  • provide support, where appropriate, as requested by the customer
  • empower the individual to act on their own behalf and will only act on the individuals behalf at their express consent
  • provide specialist advocacy which encourages a culture of independence and encourages people to express their own views with support from advocates when required. The Service will provide support with decision-making to enable service users to exercise informed choices enabling their views to be expressed appropriately
  • reach all sections of the community in Derby, particularly those communities who services have traditionally found difficult to reach
  • ensure the availability of advocates who are able to manage the communication needs of people with a learning disability, physical disability and sensory disabilities.
  • integrate with the Derby City Council Personalisation Customer Journey.
  • meet the needs of identified service gaps – a recent needs analysis and service mapping study has highlighted service gaps for people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, BME communities, those with mental health issues wanting help with challenges outside of support for medical interventions, safeguarding and the LGBT Community
  • use current and relevant policy and best practice developments to enable vulnerable people to be able to live independently and to make independent decisions in order to prevent possible abuse and exploitation by promoting independence, well being and choice,
  • maintain flexibility for the services to change according to need and resources,
  • manage the expectations of customers and work with them to identify outcome focussed goals and expected timescales for completion against which service delivery can be reviewed
  • ensure the service meets the quality standards for advocacy schemes developed by Action for Advocacy based upon their Advocacy Charter.


Innovation in approach to advocacy

shutterstock_158110856Derby City Council expects advocacy in Derby to be innovative in the way it is delivered.  Types of advocacy the provider may wish to consider are:

  • Citizen advocacy – via trained volunteers helps a customer to speak up for themselves, sometimes by developing a longer term relationship with them
  • Peer Advocacy – where customers help themselves to speak up for themselves
  • Group Advocacy – this may be paid advocates who are linked to groups of people, when there may be shared areas of concern, or a group enabled to speak together with a single voice or by speaking to and learning from each other so that each individual gets stronger.
  • Short term Advocates – these may be paid or volunteer advocates who can be called upon to advocate on behalf of someone for a limited period of time. This is particularly useful for calling upon an advocate with a particular area of expertise.


Eligibility criteria for specialist advocacy

In addition to IMHA, IMCA and NHS ICA, Specialist advocates will be available to vulnerable adults who reside in the City of Derby. Carers who’s cared for live within the city and are eligible for support under the Care Act to participate in a carer’s assessment will also be eligible for specialist advocacy

The Service must be provided to reflect the diversity and specific needs arising from an individual’s gender, age, range of abilities, sexual orientation, lifestyle, and social, ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.  It is expected that the provider will employ a variety of outreach methods and approaches of engagement appropriate to the needs and requirements of different communities and groups and demonstrate that they are assertively outreaching to maximise engagement and service take up. Activity around engagement with communities will be monitored by City Council and targets may be set in order to ensure that the service is reaching all sections of the community.

It is anticipated that ‘real world’ situations may require a limited degree of flexibility in the age range covered by this service, particularly at transition points.  Accepting clients under 18 will be on a strictly case by case basis based upon client needs and only by prior consent of the Contract Manager and the providers of the under 18 services.