Advocacy under the Care Act 2014
The Care Act 2014 placed a new duty on local authorities, from 1 Aril 2015, to provide access to independent advocacy to those who would have 'substantial difficulty' in being involved in care and support processes and have no appropriate individual(s) – carer, family or friend – who can support their involvement.
The duty applies to adults, young people who are approaching transition to adult care, and young carers.
Eligibility for Advocacy Under the Care Act
The duty on local authorities to consider providing access to an independent advocate applies to a person’s involvement in care and support processes including:
- an adult’s needs assessment
- a carer’s assessment
- the preparation of an adult’s care and support plan or support plan
- a review of an adult’s care and support plan or support plan
- a child’s needs assessment as they transition towards adult care
- a child’s carer’s assessment as the child transitions towards adult care
- a young carer’s assessment
- a safeguarding enquiry
- a safeguarding adults review.
From the first point of contact with a person, the local authority must act to involve that person in the above listed social care processes. The local authority must consider whether a person would have ‘substantial difficulty’ in any one of the following areas:
- understanding relevant information
- retaining that information
- using or weighing that information as part of the process of being involved
- communicating their views, wishes or feelings (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means).
When it is considered that a person would have substantial difficulty in being involved in the ‘process’, the local authority needs to consider whether there is a carer, relative or friend (an ‘appropriate individual’) who can support their involvement. If not the local authority must arrange an independent advocate to be available to support and represent them. The Care Act Regulations and Guidance set out some rules about who can be judged as an ‘appropriate individual’ - for example, it should be someone who the person wants to support them and it cannot be someone who is already providing the person with care or treatment in a professional capacity or on a paid basis. If there is no one appropriate to support the person, a referral should be made to independent advocacy under the Care Act.