Carers Rights… to Advocacy

Carers Rights Day focusses us all on ensuring you know what your rights are as a carer. Today, we want to help you understand your rights to advocacy.

Advocacy is about making sure that you have a voice. Advocates can help carers to understand your rights and what help is out there. If things are really tough, for example during periods of ill-health or because of disability, we can provide one to one support to make sure that your voice is heard.

Advocates can support you through a range of situations you find yourself in as a carer.

For Carers Rights Day, we want to help you know more about your rights to advocacy...

Through the Care Act, carers have a much stronger right to advocacy than ever before.

The right to advocacy is an important part of the responsibility that every local authority has in their duties to provide better access to information and advice, preventative services and an assessment of need directly to carers so you can have a life of your own alongside your caring responsibilities.

Advocacy services are available to support carers, including child carers and young carers, who have care and support needs of their own, or are likely to develop needs as a consequence of providing care and:

  • will find it very hard to participate in their carers assessment and reviews
  • there’s no one else appropriate to support you to be fully involved

The advocate is there so you are not alone when facing your assessment or review. Advocates will work with you in way you choose and that best meets your needs. We can support you to be fully involved in your assessment or review, including the self-assessment process and support planning. An advocate can help you to identify and communicate your needs and know about the wider support available to you.

If you, or another carer you know, has requested a Carers Assessment but have not had a response or you would like to request one, you can contact us directly to see how an advocate can assist you with this.

Advocacy to make a complaint to the NHS

As a carer you’re at the forefront of liaising across many different support, health and care services the person you care for receives. NHS complaints advocacy is available to anyone who wants independent support to make a complaint about any NHS-funded service. For whatever reason, with the person’s agreement, pursuing a complaint about poor treatment or care can sometimes fall to family carers on behalf of their loved one.

We recognise the many barriers that family carers may face when supporting a person to decide whether to proceed with a formal NHS Complaint. It could be because of lack of information, lack of time – or even exhaustion; lack of confidence or faith in the system.

Often, there is concern about whether making a complaint will make treatment worse for the person cared for.

An advocate can help with any, or all of these concerns.

You can share the burden of going through the complaints process.

An advocate can provide clear and accessible information about the complaint route and the support that is needed to go down that route (from letter writing to attending meetings).  An advocate can support someone to see that a complaint, far from being a negative, is actually a way to improve and keep improving our services.

Advocacy for your role as a Relevant Person’s Representative

You also have a legal right to advocacy if you’re a named representative (known as a Relevant Person’s Representative) to support a friend or relative who is subject to deprivation of liberty safeguards. If you agree to take on this role, and are appointed by the Local Authority to do so, an advocate can assist you to fulfil your responsibilities. This may include answering any questions you may have about your role, supporting you to raise any concerns you have with a care home, hospital or local authority or, helping you to make a cost-free appeal to the Court of Protection if the person you’re supporting objects to their placement.

Advocacy services for you now

The number of referrals to advocacy from carers, particularly young carers, is far fewer than what we expect the advocacy need is.

If you have any questions about advocacy or would like to talk to us about how advocacy can assist you, contact us directly on:

Care & Support advocacy helpline: 0300 222 5948 or email careadvocacy@voiceability.org

Or speak to an NHS Complaints helpline advisor on: 0300 330 5454 or email nhscomplaints@voiceability.org

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