New council contract for Advocacy in Barnsley

Barnsley Council’s Adult Social Care and Health team has re-commissioned its Advocacy Services for Social Care and Health Services. 

Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in society, are able to: have their voice heard on issues that are important to them; defend and safeguard their rights; and have their views and wishes  considered when decisions are being made about them.

The commissioned Advocacy Service includes:

  • Care Act Advocacy
  • Independent Mental Health Capacity Advocacy (IMCA)
  • Relevant Person’s Representatives (RPR)
  • Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA)
  • Generic Advocacy

Following the evaluation of the competitive tenders received, the contract has been awarded to Barnsley-based Rethink Advocacy, who are experienced in delivering Advocacy services elsewhere.

While the focus of the contract is to provide statutory advocacy, a smaller amount of generic issue-based advocacy will be provided to support the flexibility of the service including vulnerable adults who require an advocate and don’t have anyone else to advocate for them in decisions around their care and support needs.

This could include going into hospital for treatment; going into a care home; or to be supported in the community to help live more independently. 

Statutory advocacy is when the individual is legally entitled to an advocate. There are three types of statutory advocates in England and Wales:

Care and Support Advocates support certain people under the Care Act 2014 and provide support at the stage of the assessment, planning, care review, safeguarding enquiry or safeguarding adult review. If it appears to the authority that a person has care and support needs, then a judgement must be made as to whether that person has substantial difficulty in being involved and if there is  an appropriate individual to support them.  If not, an independent advocate is appointed to support and represent the person in the processes described in the Care Act.

Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs support people who are being assessed or receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act 1983. 

Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs support people who lack capacity to make certain decisions and are provided under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Mental Capacity Act states that once a standard authorisation under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLs) has been approved the supervisory body (NHS body or local authority) must appoint a relevant person’s representative (RPR) to represent the person who has been deprived of their liberty. The role of the RPR is to maintain contact with the relevant person, and to represent and support the relevant person in all matters relating to the deprivation of liberty safeguards.  

Non-Statutory/Generic Advocacy. Generic Advocates support service users across a wide range of day-to-day matters and help them to be fully involved in decision making and ensure service user's views are captured in care planning. 

Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: “Rethink Advocacy will provide support that is delivered in line with the needs of the individual including person-centred planning to assist people to plan their support and improve their independence, giving greater knowledge and information on which to base their decisions and choices; allowing service users to feel more able to participate in discussions about how services are designed and delivered, therefore gaining new skills and knowledge to communicate with professionals involved; and assisting service  to participate in self-advocacy or peer advocacy groups to achieve their goals.

Heather Robson, Head of Advocacy North for Rethink Mental Illness, said, “All too often we hear of vulnerable people not having their wishes respected, or feeling that their views were not taken in to account in decisions made about them. Advocates not only provide information during what can be a stressful period, they’re also completely independent, so they can really empower clients to have a say in their situation. Working for Rethink Advocacy will allow us to continue delivering high standard advocacy to the some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Referrals to the service can be made to: BarnsleyAdvocacyService@rethink.org

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