Your duty to refer

Independent advocacy is a statutory right for individuals who, without independent support, are unable to be involved in making important decisions about their lives. Professionals have a duty to refer eligible people to independent advocacy.

When must I refer?

Download this leaflet to see at a glance who is eligible and when to refer.

Professionals have a duty to refer eligible people to independent advocacy:

Eligibility criteria for advocacy prioritises those most in need.

Why is advocacy a statutory right for eligible people?

Statutory advocacy is there to ensure that people are involved in decision-making about their care and treatment as much as possible and that their views are being heard by professionals who make those decisions.

Advocates and advocacy providers work in partnership with the people they support to strengthen their voice and empower them to speak up and be heard. Advocacy promotes social inclusion, equality and social justice.

Advocacy is about taking action to support people to:

  • Say what they want
  • Secure their rights
  • Represent their interests
  • Obtain services they need.

What does an independent advocate do?

  • Seek the person’s views, wishes and preferences
  • Help the person to know their rights and communicate what they want
  • Support the person to understand information, processes and decisions so that they can make informed choices
  • Support the person to challenge decisions they are unhappy with, or do so on their behalf if required
  • Work with professionals to keep the person and their well-being at the centre of the care process.

The role of an advocate can include supporting vulnerable people who may have experienced or be at risk of experiencing abuse.

Non-instructed advocacy

Non-instructed advocacy takes place when a person lacks the capacity to instruct an advocate. The advocate seeks to uphold the person’s rights; ensure fair and equal treatment and access to services; and make certain that decisions are taken with due consideration for all relevant factors which must include the person’s unique preferences and perspectives.

The advocate has the right to access the person’s records if they lack capacity or the person wishes them to. An advocate may write a report outlining their findings that must be taken into account by professionals.