Local authorities should consider expanding their advocacy services to ensure they do not underestimate the impact and funding implications of duties introduced under the Act from April 2015.
That is one of the key messages from a new guide to commissioning advocacy launched today at the National Children and Adult Services Conference by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie).
Under the Act, local authorities will have a duty to provide independent advocacy when someone has ‘substantial difficulty’ being involved in the care and support process, and does not have an appropriate individual to support them.
The Scie guide urges local authorities to review their current arrangements for existing advocacy services – including independent mental capacity advocacy and independent mental health advocacy – and consider what additional resources are needed to meet the Care Act duties. It also recommends councils establish ‘flexible contracts’ with advocacy providers to ensure that capacity can increase or reduce in response to changes in demand.
Tony Hunter, Scie’s chief executive, said the guide had been developed in co-production with users and carers and was based on lessons from local authorities that had good advocacy commissioning arrangements in place.
Jon Rouse, director general for social care at the Department of Health, said: “Local authorities should not underestimate how vital it is to have effective, independent advocacy services in place. It is a critical element of the Care Act. People must be supported to understand and be fully involved in decisions about their care – from assessment through to planning and delivering care.”