May 2018: This chapter has been revised throughout as a result of local review.
It is critical in this particularly sensitive area (whether a safeguarding enquiry or a Safeguarding Adult Review – SAR) that the adult is supported in what may feel a daunting process. An individual who is thought to have been abused or neglected may be so demoralised, frightened, embarrassed or upset that independent advocacy will be crucial to their involvement.
Local authorities must involve people in decisions where there is to be a safeguarding enquiry or SAR. Involvement requires the local authority helping people to understand how they can be involved, how they can contribute and take part, and sometimes lead or direct the process. No matter how complex a person’s needs, local authorities are required to involve people, to help them express their wishes and feelings, to support them to weigh up options, and to make their own decisions.
Local authorities have a duty to arrange an independent advocate for adults who are subject to a safeguarding enquiry or SAR if two conditions are met:
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 the local authority and other organisations as required for the safeguarding enquiry or SAR. The duty to involve applies in all settings, including for those people living in the community, in care homes and in hospitals.
Additionally, the Equality Act 2010 requires that reasonable adjustments should be made to ensure that disabled people have equal access to information and advice services. Provision of such adjustments, information in different formats for example, may reduce or remove a substantial difficulty a person may have in being involved.
Many of the people who qualify for advocacy under the Care Act 2014 will also qualify for advocacy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA). The same advocate can provide support as an advocate under the Care Act and under the MCA. This is to enable the person to receive seamless advocacy and not to have to repeat their story to different advocates. Under whichever legislation the advocate providing support is acting, they should meet the appropriate requirements for an advocate under that legislation.
If a safeguarding enquiry needs to start urgently, because of the risk to the individual, then it can begin before an advocate is appointed but one must be appointed as soon as possible. All agencies and organisations should be familiar with the role of advocacy, as described above, and contact should be made with the relevant local authority if an advocate is required.
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