Advocates appointed under the Care Act have two main functions. Firstly, they are there to support the person to make their own decisions and be as involved as possible within decision making processes. Whilst performing this function, independent advocates will therefore need to:
- be aware of and comply with the rule and regulations under which they operate
- take into account the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – especially Art 12 (3) which protects the rights of people to have their views effectively communicated ‘Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.’
- recognise the different approaches required, dependent on the capacity of the individual and adopt a supported decision making approach wherever possible
- ensure that if the person has been assessed as lacking the capacity to make the decision, the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act have been correctly applied and that anyone charged with making a decision takes it in the best interests of the person.
Secondly, advocates can represent a person, which may involve speaking on their behalf. This is particularly important for people who are not able to self-advocate and put forward their own wishes, aspirations and choices. The independent advocate must ‘advocate’ on the person’s behalf, to put their case, to scrutinise the options, to question the plans if they do not appear to meet all eligible needs or do not meet them in a way that fits with the person’s wishes and feelings.