Independent Care Act Advocacy
Under the Care Act 2014 no matter how complex a person’s needs Local Authorities must enable people to be active partners in the key processes of:
- Care and support planning and review
- Safeguarding enquiry or review
Since the 1st April 2015 eligible people can now have access to an Independent Care Act Advocate (ICAA) to help them to be actively involved in their care and support planning.
- Is there a substantial difficulty?
Some people may have ‘substantial difficulty’ being involved, even after reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act have been made. The Care Act defines four areas in any one of which a substantial difficulty might be found:
- Understanding relevant information
- Retaining information
- Using or weighing up the information
- Communicating views, wishes and feelings
- Is there an appropriate adult?
If someone has substantial difficulty they must be supported to be involved as fully as possible by:
- Ensuring that there is an ‘appropriate individual’ such as a friend or relative who can facilitate the person’s active involvement in the process; or
- If there is no appropriate individual to help them, by arranging for an independent advocate to support and represent them.
- If there is a substantial difficulty and no appropriate adult then the duty to instruct an independent advocate covers:
- Adults who need care and support
- Carers of adults (including young carers)
- Carers of children in transition
- Children who are going through transition to adult services
It is important to note that there are some circumstances where someone who has an appropriate adult to support them can still be eligible for an Independent Care Act Advocate. Specifically if:
- A placement is being considered for an NHS funded stay in hospital (for a period exceeding 4 weeks) or a care home (for a period exceeding 8 weeks)
- There is a disagreement between the LA and the appropriate person, and they both agree that the person would benefit from having an advocate
Role of an Advocate
To support and represent their clients, assisting them to:
- Understand the key care and support processes and how their needs can be met
- Understand their rights under the Care Act and to understand their wider rights, including their rights to liberty and family life
- Communicate their views, wishes and feelings
- Make decisions about their care and support
- Challenge a decision or process made by the local authority; and where a person cannot challenge the decision even with assistance, then to challenge it on their behalf
Where practicable, Advocates are expected to meet the person in private. Where a person has capacity, the advocate should ask their consent to look at their records and to talk to others who can help. Where a person does not have capacity the advocate is required to consult both the records and the family or others if the advocate considers this is appropriate.