7. What do NHS Boards and Local Authorities get from Independent Advocacy?
7.1 Better outcomes for people
7.1.1. Advocacy makes a difference to what happens to people. It leads to better decisions about treatment and services. People feel better about themselves and their situation. People get out of places where they are unhappy, get included in places where they want to be. Advocacy can also have a preventative role, ensuring that the interests of vulnerable individuals are not forgotten so that problems and crises for that person do not arise. Group or collective advocacy can provide information to support commissioners and planners to make sure that support services are targeted, that planning leads to the most efficient use of available resources leading to better outcomes for groups and individuals.
7.2 Intelligence and feedback
7.2.1 Advocacy organisations can provide an alternative source of constructive intelligence and feedback about how well services are meeting the needs of the most vulnerable groups, and inform future needs and priorities while protecting the confidentiality of individuals. This can assist the systems of clinical governance within NHS Boards and of best value within Local Authorities. As well as highlighting quality and problems in current service provision, independent advocacy can inform joint planning for the future.
7.3 Added value
7.3.1 A relatively small investment in independent advocacy can yield significant results. Advocacy organisations engage the skills and commitment of ordinary members of the public. They empower people who are being ignored, giving people the support and information they need to make their own decisions and take more control of their own life. Advocacy organisations also have an interest in avoiding dependence on a single agency, so core funding from statutory sources may be extended through other grants and fundraising activity.
7.4 Constructive challenge to service providers
7.4.1 Advocacy organisations provide a constant challenge to service providers to improve what they do. This challenge may be at least as effective in achieving higher quality as the more formal processes of standard-setting, inspection and regulation.
7.5 Keeping the focus on people who are most at risk
7.5.1 By concentrating on people who are most likely to fall through the net, independent advocacy helps the formal service system to improve the quality of what is provided for people who are hardest to serve. This is the acid test for any service system, and independent advocacy helps keep this on the agenda.
7.6 Designing person-centred services
7.6.1 Advocacy supports the development of person-centred services because it is involved with people whose circumstances do not readily fit standard arrangements. By testing the limitations of current services, advocacy can help professionals to redesign and refine the system so that it works better for everyone.
Email: Sandra Falconer
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