Top tip 1: Know your role

Understand your role as an advocate in relation to the use of medication and in supporting people to have a better life.

Your role in relation to psychotropic medication is the same as in all other areas of advocacy. You are there to enable the person:

  • To understand the situation and their rights in it.
  • To express their views and preferences and ensure that these are fully taken into account in decisions.
  • To challenge decisions (or where needed do so on the person’s behalf).
  • To have more choice and control and to live a better life.

Supporting people with medication issues can fall into the role of every advocate – it’s not confined to advocates working with inpatients. The majority of people with learning disabilities, autism or both are not in hospital. They are usually prescribed medication by their GP. In some circumstances, Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs), Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs) and Care Act Advocates may have to take action about psychotropic medications in order to fulfil their legal duties.

IMHA: You must support people to raise issues about the use of medication if they are concerned about this. You must also raise concerns yourself on request and for people who do not have the capacity to ask you to do this for them but who would be well served by you doing so.

IMCA: Consider whether a particular use of psychotropic medication constitutes Serious Medical Treatment under the Mental Capacity Act – if so the person is entitled to an IMCA or appropriate adult. 

Care Act: If the person wants you to do so, ask about the use of medication in assessments, care plans and reviews. You must also ask about this for people who do not have capacity to ask you to do this for them but who would be well served by you doing so. If the person does not have the capacity to challenge a decision made during an assessment, planning or review of their care, including a decision about medication, you must do so if you think that the decision does not promote the individual’s wellbeing. There is more detail about these legal provisions in the supplement to this guide, available on the main STOMP page.