Harrow Carers Advocacy project is a voluntary service that we offer and therefore is subject to availability. The principal aim of the service, is to offer support to carers who are not being listened to, heard or understood by others and to enable them to be responded to appropriately by professionals and services.
The main themes of our advocacy are:
- Safeguarding the rights of people who are vulnerable and discriminated against or whom services find difficult to serve
- Empowering people who need a stronger voice by enabling them to express their own needs and make their own decisions
- Enabling people to gain access to information, explore and understand their options, and to make their views and wishes known
- Speaking on behalf of people who are unable to do so for themselves
It is also about:
- Ensuring that individual carers have a voice and are listened to.
- Enabling carers to feel equal and empowering them to speak up for themselves.
- Helping carers to tackle a single issue with which they need help, support or information.
- Representing carers expressed wishes and acting under their instruction.
- Ensuring that carers are able to make informed choices based on unbiased information.
In what situations might a carer need an advocate?
- At meetings with Health, Social Services, Housing Departments etc when a carer is in need of support
- When there is conflict between the needs of the cared for person and the carer.
- When a complaint letter needs to be written
- When a carer is unsure of his/her rights as a Carer
- When important decisions are being taken upon the cared for discharge from hospital
- When a carer is just too exhausted to stand up for herself/himself
- When dialogue needs to be reopened between a carer and another party/organisation.
Carers often find themselves asking for further support for either themselves or the person cared for. This can happen at times of crisis or great change, when support is more urgently needed. Carers are often the first people to ask for help and support at these times. However, they may find that their views are not being fully considered or their needs not being adequately recognised by professionals and services.
Advocacy is about enabling carers to have the information and strategies available to enable them to access the support and services both they and the person they care for require.
Types of Advocacy at Harrow Carers:
- 1 – 1 advocacy support, where the carer is supported by an individual advocate to address the issues they are concerned with
- Self-Advocacy, where we run a range of workshops, training and individual sessions to enable carers to learn and practise techniques they can use themselves to address issues more independently.
How to access the service
All carers registered with the organisation can access the service by telephoning the Carers Centre and booking an appointment with an advocate. The advocate will either respond to the enquiry on the phone or schedule a follow-up meeting with the carer at the Centre or at their home.
First time enquiries are assessed for eligibility for the service prior to registration.
Who are the Advocacy support workers?
Harrow Carers advocacy support workers are paid members of staff or volunteers, who are trained, supported and supervised within the organisation. They bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to the role, having worked in the local social services, government departments and healthcare profession. They are caring, assertive, non judgemental and good listeners. They act under the instructions of the carer and put the carer’s needs and wishes first. Advocacy support workers act under a strict code of confidentiality which is fully explained at the outset of a piece of advocacy.
How can an Advocate help?
With 1-1 advocacy, an advocate will firstly listen to your concerns and what you have to say about your situation. They will try to understand your concerns from your point of view. They are also there to help you to understand what rights and expectations you can have, and to discuss differing options to address these concerns. The advocate will then agree with you what issues they will support you with and how to take these forward.
What will the advocate do in practise?
An advocate can:
Find appropriate information to enable you to understand your rights and options, and what you can potentially ask for
Refer you to other services and support where this is relevant, such as specialist advice or counselling services
Help you to write letters or make phone calls on your behalf, to discuss issues with other professional people such as Social Workers and GPs
Come to meetings with you and, if you want them to, to speak on your behalf
What Advocates cannot do
An advocate cannot:
Offer advice – there are specialist services for this. However, they can find out relevant information to enable you as a carer to decide what you feel is best for you
Step in for other support services – they are there to enable the carer to access the services and support they need, and not to fill any gap in service provision
Promise to keep everything confidential – as they have a duty to report a child or vulnerable adult who might be at risk of harm
Advocates are not there to tell you what to do, they are there to support you in your choices and decisions
Standards for Advocacy
All advocates work to the Quality Standards for Advocacy Scheme.
Confidentiality: We take carers confidentiality very seriously. Discussions with an advocate are confidential, although the advocate will need to keep a record of the work that they do. We do not share carers information with a third party unless required to do so and we will always seek their consent first.