What is advocacy in social care?
Advocates in social care are independent from the local authority (local council) and the NHS. They are trained to help you understand your rights, express your views and wishes, and help make sure your voice is heard.
The law on entitlement to social care advocacy is different in England and Wales.
(For information about your rights to health and social care support, see our legal pages on health and social care rights.)
Am I entitled to an advocate in England?
The Care Act 2014 says that, when decisions are made about your social care, it's important that:
- you should be able to participate as fully as possible
- your views, wishes, feelings and beliefs should be taken into consideration
- all your relevant circumstances are taken into account.
The law says that you need an advocate if you have difficulty in any one of these areas:
- understanding relevant information
- retaining information
- using or weighing information (for example being able to see the advantages or disadvantages in different options)
- communicating your views, wishes and feelings.
Local authorities are under a duty to involve you in decisions made about your care and support. If you have difficulty being involved in these decisions, then your local authority must provide an advocate, unless there is someone else suitable to support you.
When doesn't the local authority have to provide an advocate?
The local authority doesn't have to provide you with an advocate if there is an appropriate person to support and represent you, like a:
- family member
- unpaid carer
A person cannot be an appropriate person if:
- they are your professional or paid carer
- you don't consent to them being your appropriate person
- you lack the capacity to decide whether they should be your appropriate person, and the local authority considers it's not in your best interests for them to be your appropriate person.
In what situations will an advocate support me?
The local authority should consider right from the beginning of their involvement with you whether you have any difficulties that mean that you should have an advocate.
You are entitled to the support of an advocate: