The Care and Support Alliance has welcomed a Government decision to guarantee that tens of thousands of people each year who would struggle to navigate the social care system alone can turn to an independent advocate.
The announcement comes as the Government prepares to debate its Care Bill plans to reform the social care system in the House of Lords this week. The CSA is calling on the Government to seize the “once in a generation opportunity to improve the lives of many of our most potentially vulnerable citizens”.
The CSA has been campaigning for a right to advocacy since the Bill was introduced to Parliament in draft form last year.
Independent advocates provide intensive support especially to people who find it hardest to express their views and needs, or make decisions about their care. They ensure that people’s voices are heard, that they won’t have to face the often intimidating and complex process of council assessments alone, and that they get the care they need when they need it.
Advocacy charity VoiceAbility argues many struggle to get this support: “Advocacy helps people’s voices to be heard and enables people to stay in control of their lives. But currently the provision of advocacy remains patchy, so whether you are properly involved in your decisions about your life can depend on where you live.”
The Government has now committed to creating a right to advocacy in the Care Bill. When the Bill becomes law, local authorities will need to ensure independent advocates are available for the most vulnerable.
Sue Brown, Vice Chair of CSA, said:
“We’re really pleased to see an amendment, which would guarantee that some of the most vulnerable people can get an advocate.
“Advocates play a critical role in the care system, this duty will ensure that people are properly involved in assessments and care planning, and that they won’t have to face the intimidating and complex process of councils assessments alone.
“Advocates support people to articulate their needs, make informed choices and make the process less intimidating; they support with planning care, reviewing that care and help people speak out if they are unsatisfied with care or when safeguarding issues may arise.
“The amendment is a major step forward and it is pleasing to see that the Government has listened to and acted on our concerns.”
Speaking about the bill, Sue Brown added:
“The Care Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to improve the lives of many of our most potentially vulnerable citizens.
“The social care system is in crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people aren’t getting support to get up, get dressed and get out of the house, because cash-strapped councils are raising the bar for eligibility. While those in the system are struggling to get the support that genuinely gives them a chance to live independently.
“The Bill is back in the Lords on Wednesday. Politicians are starting to realise that getting it right means being bold. The Government has made several amendments to the Bill that we welcome. These include the requirement that assessments must be carried out by people with specialist expertise in certain circumstances, and that councils must take on board the importance of promoting well-being when commissioning services.
“We hope these moves set the tone for the Care Bill, and politicians take the opportunity to build a system that ensures that everyone who needs support to live independently gets it.”
About the Care and Support Alliance:
- Set up in July 2009, the C&SA is a consortium of over 70 organisations that represent and support older and disabled people, including disabled children, those with long-term conditions and their families, and campaigns to keep adult care funding and reform on the political agenda.