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  • Advocating for adequate Home Care Packages and for a comprehensive and equitable system of home care support and oversight of home care providers.
  • Advocating with and for people with intellectual disabilities who are trying to develop a life with meaningful activities after they leave a congregated setting.
  • Promoting self-advocacy and professional development through workshops on capacity and decision making, enduring power of attorney and advance healthcare directives.
  • Promoting awareness of Sage's services in communities, General Practices, day centres, nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and hostels.
  • Challenging unnecessary restrictions on people's liberties and the use of 'convenience medication'.
  • Supporting people to return home from hospital or care centre.
  • Assisting people to maintain control of their income, benefits or property.
  • Observing or facilitating meetings of residents, family members or staff in nursing homes.

Raising the status of advocacy

One of the greatest challenges faced by Sage and other direct providers of support and advocacy services is that advocacy, as a practice, is not formally recognised in law. Because of this there is no obligation on health, social care, legal and financial service providers or family members to engage with independent advocates. That so many already do is a credit to their respect for the right of individuals who may be vulnerable to have their voice heard and their will and preference acted on. In the context of legislative developments related to deprivation of liberty and safeguarding it is possible that formal recognition of independent advocacy will be achieved within the near future but this is by no means guaranteed. The formal recognition of independent advocacy would be an important step forward but, while absolutely necessary, it is not sufficient. If achieved it will raise further questions such as:

  • how can the practice of advocacy be quality assured and accountable?
  • how can coordination be promoted across the sector?
  • which approach is likely to work better – competitive collaboration or consolidation?
  • what service models and approaches are best suited to particular types of clients and situations?
  • how can advocacy and safeguarding work be more closely aligned so that the concerns of advocates regarding access to vulnerable adults can be linked with the powers of access which are being sought for a new National Safeguarding Service and Authority?

The establishment of a National Council for Advocacy, combined with the enactment and implementation of the Safeguarding Adults Bill (2017), would be significant milestones in addressing these questions. A further important consideration is that the approach of commissioning is increasingly being used by government to decide how services to the public are procured. The development of such an approach in the advocacy sector would require levels of strategic understanding and operational capability which are currently not well developed within the sector.

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