As part of the safeguarding process consideration should be given to whether an adult may benefit from the support of an independent advocate. There are two distinct types of advocacy – instructed and non-instructed – and it is important that people involved in the safeguarding adults process are aware of which type of advocate is representing the person and supporting them to express their views.
Instructed advocates take their instructions from the person they are representing. For example, they will only attend meetings or express views with the permission of that person. Non-instructed advocates work with people who lack capacity to make decisions about how the advocate should represent them. Non-instructed advocates independently decide how best to represent the person.
Advocates should be invited to the case conference (other than in exceptional circumstances e.g. where the relationship between the adult and the advocate is considered abusive), either accompanying the adult or attending on their behalf, to represent the person’s views and wishes. Instructed advocates would attend only with the permission of the adult at risk.
An Appropriate Person to Facilitate the Adult’s Involvement:
The Care Act requires local authorities to consider whether there is an appropriate person who can facilitate an adult’s involvement in the safeguarding process.
The legislation contains three requirements.
- First, it cannot be someone who is already providing care and treatment in a professional capacity or on a paid basis (regardless of who employs or pays them). That means it cannot be, for example, a GP, or a nurse, a key worker or a care and support worker involved in the adult’s care or support.
- Second, the adult who is the subject of the safeguarding enquiry or Safeguarding Adults Review (SAR) has to agree to the person supporting them, if the adult has the capacity to make this decision. Where an adult with capacity does not wish to be supported by a relative, for example, perhaps because they do not wish to discuss the nature of the abuse with them, then the local authority cannot consider the relative to be an appropriate person to act as the adult’s advocate. The adult who is the subject of the enquiry or of the SAR has to agree to the appropriateness of the supporter. If the adult in question does not have the capacity to consent to being represented or supported by a particular person, then the local authority has to be satisfied that it is in the adult’s best interests to be supported and represented by the proposed person.
- Third, the person is expected to support and represent the adult and to help their involvement in the processes. In some circumstances it is unlikely that they will be able to fulfil this role easily; for example, a family member who lives at a distance and who only has occasional contact with the adult; a spouse who also finds it difficult to understand the local authority processes, or a friend who expresses strong opinions of their own, prior to finding out those of the individual concerned. It is not sufficient to know the adult well; the role is to actively support the adult’s participation in the process.
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