Understanding advocacy is important in Essex: Practice example
An existing partnership involving eight advocacy services – Essex Advocacy Partnership with a lead national provider – was established prior to implementation of the Care Act, offering a strong foundation for development of advocacy under the Act. One partner said:
In Essex we were already advocating for people to have advocates, for instance, on the back of Valuing People to make sure people were included and involved in decisions, it just wasn’t called independent Care Act advocacy. The only difference is that now people have a statutory right to advocacy.(Provider)
Whilst this is being re-commissioned by 2018, such a partnership prioritises and values provision of all kinds of advocacy, not limiting it to ‘statutory advocacy’ only. Essex County Council aims to commission advocacy that is outcomes-focused, requiring services to show what difference advocacy is making to users.
I hope we would have citizen, volunteer, peer advocacy to support people who have a long-term need for advocacy. It doesn’t seem right that they should have a different advocate every time a need for advocacy under the Care Act is identified. That is where you’ll get true and meaningful advocacy, and we’re trying to grow that… If someone who doesn’t know me comes along to represent me, how is that going to help me have a voice, to speak for myself ultimately?(Commissioner, interview)
Signposting to the right service
The lead provider acts as a hub, directing access to the right advocacy service through the different partners. As one provider commented:
The richness with commissioning different forms of advocacy is that it ensures all vulnerable people can access advocacy that is relevant and specific to their advocacy need, whether this is an appropriate family member, volunteer or a paid advocate. The Care Act guidance clearly identifies where the different forms of advocacy overlap and it is this that underpins the holistic approach. It is all forms of advocacy that should be supported, available and commissioned.(Provider)