Assessing need and preferences for Care Act advocacy service in Slough

Practice example

The starting point was to redesign the service, to create a better advocacy service that was not just about advocacy under the Care Act but how advocacy is viewed by people using social care. Effort was put in at the beginning of the commissioning process to identify exactly what was needed. This included looking at relevant policy documents and good practice guidance as well as reviewing:

  • the local joint strategic needs assessment
  • who currently uses advocacy services
  • what local people understand about advocacy and its potential benefits
  • the barriers people currently experience in accessing care, which may best be addressed through improved access to advocacy
  • the types of advocacy services people want and need
  • how people currently access advocacy services and how they might choose to access services in the future
  • what people consider to be a good local advocacy service, which meets their needs.

Slough Healthwatch [1] completed a review of current advocacy provision, on behalf of the local authority. It conducted focus groups and a limited number of one-to-one informal interviews with service users who had received advocacy services from current providers, to understand their experience of receiving advocacy and how the service can be improved. Information collected from this report supported in designing the new service as information was included in the service specification of the new service.