Independent advocacy

Information about the independent advocate for eligible adults in North Lincolnshire.

What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is empowering people to have a voice, and making a real difference to their lives, by speaking for them when they can’t and supporting them to speak for themselves when they can.

POhWER provide Independent Advocacy support in North Lincolnshire.

Everyone has the right to be involved and have their say in decisions about their lives, including their care and support. An advocate can help you to get your views heard.

Advocacy is free, independent and confidential. The advocate is there to support you and to represent your views and wishes and support you to self-advocate if you can.

An advocate can help a person to:

  • speak up for themselves or give their views
  • understand the process they are going through, their rights and what choices are available to them
  • be part of an important decision which is being made about them
  • prepare for and take part in meetings and tribunals
  • raise queries or concerns
  • access information in the format which is most suitable
  • access services that can support them.

Advocates can also provide information and signpost people to other helpful services.

An IMHA is an independent advocate who is trained in the Mental Health Act 1983 and supports people to understand their rights under the Act and participate in decisions about their care and treatment.

You can receive the support of an IMHA if you are:

  • Detained under the Mental Health Act
  • A conditionally discharged restricted patient
  • Subject to Guardianship under the Mental Health Act
  • Receiving Supervised Community Treatment (SCT).
  • Being considered for a surgical treatment for mental disorder.
  • Under 18 and being considered for electro-convulsive therapy or any other treatment to which section 58A applies.

The NHS and private providers of care for detained patients have a legal duty to provide information about IMHA support to all eligible people. They must also support communication and referrals for those patients who wish to use the IMHA service.

An IMCA is an advocate who has been specially trained to support people who are not able to make certain decisions for themselves and do not have family or friends who are able to speak for them. IMCAs do not make decisions and they are independent of the people who do make the decisions.

An IMCA can support anyone who is over 16 years old and who has been assessed as ‘lacking capacity’. This means they are not able to make or understand a particular decision about their life because the way their mind or brain works has been affected by an illness, an injury or a disability. They must have been assessed by a doctor or a social worker at the time the particular decision needs to be made. The person might have dementia, learning disabilities, mental health problems, a brain injury or they might have had a stroke. A lack of capacity can be temporary such as when someone has been in an accident and is unconscious.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) protect people who lack capacity to consent to being deprived of their liberty. This means that because an illness, an injury or a disability has affected the way their mind works they are not able to agree that they will not be allowed to do certain things.

Because of the DoLS vulnerable people cannot have their freedom taken away unless it is in their best interests and there is no ‘less restrictive alternative’ (an option which will affect the person’s freedom or rights less).

The Supervisory Body (the local council where the person normally lives) decides if a person can legally be deprived of their liberty and for how long. To do this they arrange assessments.

POhWER’s advocates protect the human rights of people who lack capacity and seem to be being deprived of their liberty. POhWER’s advocates work with them to make sure the deprivation is lawful, reasonable and in their best interests.

When the Supervisory Body is considering a DoLS authorisation an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) should be appointed for anyone who does not have a suitable friend or family member to speak for them. The IMCA supports the person and collects information about them including their beliefs, values and previous behaviour and uses this to write a report for the assessors. The IMCA can also challenge decisions made by the assessors. This is a 39A IMCA.

Everyone who is deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act must have a representative. This could be a family member or a friend but if there is no one suitable it could be a Paid Representative also known as an RPPR.

POhWER’s RPPRs are qualified advocates who have specialist knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards legislation.

If you have a concern about the health care you or someone you know has received you may want to make a complaint. If you need help to make your complaint you can use POhWER’s NHS Complaints Advocacy service which is free, independent of the NHS and confidential.

You can use the complaints process to complain about any NHS funded treatment including care provided by NHS hospitals, GPs, pharmacies, ambulance services, dentists, district nurses, opticians and mental health services. If the NHS paid for treatment at a private hospital or pays all or part of someone’s care home fees this is also covered by the NHS complaints process.

The Care Act says that local councils must involve people in decisions about their care and support needs. If it would be difficult for someone to be involved without support the council must make sure they get the help they need. If the person doesn’t have someone who can help them they have the right to have an independent Care Act advocate.

This service is for residents of North Lincolnshire or those registered with a GP in the area who need support with an issue relating to their health and social care.

You can refer yourself for IMHA support and Generic Non-statutory Advocacy by completing a form from POhWER’s website or by contacting POhWER using the details below.

For all other advocacy services you will be referred to POhWER by a health or social care professional or a community organisation you are in contact with.

POhWER is a registered charity who has been working to effect change in British society since 1996. POhWER was set up in 1996 by service users who, tired of others making assumptions about their capabilities and views, wanted equal access to information and a voice of their own.

POhWER are driving rights-led change through advocacy. POhWER supports beneficiaries across the United Kingdom.

There is no “typical” POhWER beneficiary. POhWER look at everyone who needs a helping hand through advocacy to lead independent lives and to uphold their rights. Anyone at any point in their lives can benefit from advocacy – we support people, not labels.

We can support you whether you are at home, in hospital or in a residential or nursing home. We also support people in medium and low security psychiatric units.

POhWER’s services are free, independent and confidential.