When you have care and support needs, you can sometimes feel that other people are making the big decisions in your life – where you live, how you would like your home (personal) care services to be delivered and by whom, or even what you do in the evenings.
It can be even harder to speak out if your family and friends – or even the health and social care professionals – believe they are acting in your best interests. After all, no-one wants to appear ungrateful.
You can ask for help to make sure you have a say in decisions that affect your life – this is called ‘advocacy’.
Advocacy is about making sure everyone knows what is important to you. Advocacy can be helpful in situations where you need other people to listen to you and take your views into account.
The person who speaks for you and makes sure your voice is heard is called an 'advocate'.
If you have care and support needs, you can ask your local council to arrange advocacy services for you whether or not they are meeting your care needs.
You can ask for an advocate if you are living in your own home, in supported accommodation like sheltered housing or living in residential care.
How can your advocate help you?
The person acting as your advocate is completely independent and is there to represent your wishes without judging you or telling you their personal opinion. Your advocate will spend time getting to know you and finding out your views and wishes.
They will also:
- help you find information you need
- help you understand that information fully
- explain your choices and help you think them through
- write letters or fill in forms on your behalf
- accompany you to meetings or interviews
- speak out on your behalf when you don’t feel able to speak yourself
- help you make a complaint
- make sure your rights are upheld
An advocate will do all these things to support you; however, they cannot advise you what to do or make decisions on your behalf.
Your advocate will not tell anyone else what you tell them unless they have very good reason to believe you are in imminent danger or at significant risk of harm to yourself or others.
Mental Health Matters Wales has more information about the different kinds of advocate on its website.