Mary, who has learning disabilities, lives with three other people in her house. Although a recent review had highlighted that she did not want to move, the support provider was going ahead with a housing application for a single tenancy for her. Mary felt that her views were not being listened to, and a friend told her about advocacy. Mary told the advocate very clearly that she did not want to move – she wanted to remain where she was, and to share with her friend. The advocate presented this view to Mary’s service manager and social worker, who acknowledged her wishes and accepted that she had a right to remain in her house. Mary has been notified of this and is very pleased.
Paul (15) has Aspergers Syndrome. He wasn’t happy at his school and wanted to move. His initial placing request was refused on the grounds that adequate provision was offered at his existing school and that there were no places at his requested school. However with the support of his advocate he took his case to appeal and won. The advocacy highlighted some problems at the previous school, and because of this changes were made there.
Emma is a 9-year-old girl with autism. She was referred for advocacy because there were problems with her social work support, and stresses at home, which were having an adverse effect on her ability to benefit from education. Her advocate spent time with the family to understand their circumstances, and suggest where they might go for support. The advocate contacted the social work department and was successful in getting Emma an allocated social worker and support assessments done for the whole family. More support was then offered which eased the tensions at home and allowed Emma to access play-schemes and after-school clubs. This improved her emotional state and behaviour which allowed her to enjoy school again.
Paula, 21, had a boyfriend and wanted to get married. However the staff at her home were very dismissive and discouraging, and wanted to refer her to a psychologist. She confided in her advocate, who listened to her and accompanied Paula to a review, and supported her to tell the staff how she felt and that she wanted to get married. The advocate also spent time with Paula and her boyfriend and supported them to think things through. Paula decided for herself that it is too early for marriage. Had it not been for the advocate her feelings would have continued to be dismissed and the over-reaction of a sexual needs assessment would have been implemented.
Mark was in a children’s home, where his mental health had deteriorated to the extent that he spent all day in his room, refusing to come out, and even eating there. The care he was receiving was totally inadequate. An advocate was assigned; she sat with him for hours, slowly developing a relationship of trust. He was eventually moved to foster parents. This worked well at first but his behaviour started to have a negative impact on the family and they needed respite care, which was not available. The advocate managed to find respite through Barnardos, and the placement did not break down, as had been predicted. It is still working well.
Claire, 19, was homeless, had no family or professional support, and had attempted suicide. The advocate supported her to apply for housing and access benefits. Once a tenancy was gained the advocate supported her to get a homelessness starter pack, a furniture package, a community care grant and grants from local charities for appliances. Through the process of making applications and attending interviews Claire developed skills and confidence so she is now able to access services for herself and be empowered to take control of her own life.
Michael was very unhappy with his living situation, but he always went along with what service providers said. His mental health deteriorated to the extent that he was allocated a psychiatrist. An advocate has now been supporting Michael for a year. She got to know him and his likes and dislikes, and went to review meetings with him. After a few months Michael moved into his own tenancy. His psychiatrist says that he thinks the involvement of Michael’s advocate has made the move possible, as she was so active in helping Michael think about his options, helping to build his confidence, and supporting him to keep expressing his views to his care manager. The advocate continued to be involved with Michael, supporting him on issues which arose with his new staff. Initially Michael would ask the advocate to speak on his behalf, but recently he came to a meeting with a carefully prepared agenda, and although the advocate was there for moral support, Michael presented his own case confidently and clearly.
Dermot is 42, has no verbal communication and requires assistance with all aspects of his personal care. He previously lived with his mother but when she died a few years ago he was found temporary accommodation in a nursing home with elderly patients, and has been there ever since. He receives physical care but the home is not equipped to support him with individual or social activities. He has not had a care manager for several months. The advocate is working to get a care manager appointed and has gone with him to visit different types of accommodation – she uses Dermot’s communication aid to help him say what he thinks. This situation has not yet been resolved, but the advocate will remain involved until Dermot is settled into accommodation that he likes and has the support he needs.
Laura was living in a hospital setting where the focus was on ‘treating’ challenging behaviour. She was very unhappy with the large numbers, the noise and the restrictive regime. She had many interests and hobbies, but was rarely able to enjoy them, and her reaction to the difficulties she faced often led to further loss of privileges. Her advocate supported her through a move to a smaller unit. However she still finds it noisy and restrictive, with few outlets for her interests. She meets with her advocate regularly, and having someone to talk to about her frustrations has helped her to remain calmer, and so avoid the reactions which lead people to the view that she is not ready to move on. To begin with staff were very anxious about her going out alone with her advocate, but the advocate has helped her to be more involved in local activities. She now attends two evening classes, in computers and art. With her advocate she was involved in an advocates’ training course. She is still seeking to move on to more independent living, and her advocate will still be there to help her think about and prepare for this.