Guidance for Unpaid Carer Advocacy in Scotland

This document, endorsed by Scottish Government and COSLA provides guidance for advocacy professionals who are interested in or are currently undertaking advocacy work with unpaid carers in Scotland.

Advocacy is, advocacy is not

Advocacy is...

  • about standing alongside potentially marginalised people
  • about ensuring the rights of a person or group are upheld
  • a process of promoting natural justice
  • listening to someone and trying to understand their point of view
  • finding out what makes them feel good and valued
  • understanding their situation and what may be stopping them from getting what they want
  • offering the person support to tell other people what they want or introducing them to others who may be able to help
  • helping someone to know what choices they have and what the consequences of these choices might be
  • enabling a person to have control over their life but taking up issues on their behalf if they want you to
  • being non-judgemental

Case Study

Marion is the main carer for her son who is affected by mental health issues. Marion was referred to Independent Advocacy for support by the Mental Health Officer, who felt that she may benefit from someone independent to discuss and understand her options and rights with regards to her sons care and treatment as he had been detained in hospital.

The Carers Advocate gave Marion information about her rights as she had become the "named person" for her son by default, and she was provided with her options regarding participation in discussions surrounding her sons care. The Carers advocate also explained the conditions of her son's detention under the mental health act and supported her to access a solicitor.

Marion was supported to prepare her views for the upcoming tribunal, and the process was explained so that she had knowledge of what to expect. Marion was supported by advocacy to attend the tribunal and put forward her views; the Carers Advocate collected information from the professionals around the table and asked any questions that Marion wished answered.

After the tribunal Marion met with the Carers Advocate to go over the information given at the tribunal and to discuss what options were available to her. Marion's son was discharged from hospital later that month, and the Carers Advocate supported Marion to make contact with local carers services as her son was residing with her The Carers Advocate also supported Marion to make contact with social services regarding a carers support plan and regular respite.

Marion continues to receive the support of advocacy for care reviews.

The feedback from Marion was that Carers advocacy allowed her to have a voice, and understand a system she had never had experienced before. She felt that she was valued, listened too and granted to opportunity to engage in the process.

Advocacy is not...

  • making decisions for someone
  • mediation
  • counselling
  • befriending
  • care and support work
  • consultation telling or advising someone what you think they should do
  • solving all someone's problems for them
  • speaking for people when they are able to express a view
  • filling all the gaps in someone's life
  • acting in a way which benefits other people more than the person you are advocating for
  • agreeing with everything a person says and doing anything a person asks you to do
  • providing an alternative for poor or inadequate service from another agency

Case Studies

Julie is the advocate for Graeme, a carer for his 28 year old daughter who has cerebral palsy. Graeme tells Julie that he wishes to make a complaint about the short break service his daughter attends, however Julie's husband works for the short break service. Julie declares this conflict of interest to her manager so that they can discuss the best course of action.

Sandra is a carer for her mother, and her advocacy worker, Colin is helping her prepare for a review meeting. The day before the review is due to take place, Colin receives a phone call from the social worker suggesting that he attends early tomorrow for a 'pre review meeting' with professionals as there is sensitive information which will be discussed and they feel it may be best if Sandra is not aware of this information yet. Colin clarifies with the social worker that as an advocate he is unable to give any opinion, professional or otherwise, or withhold any information from Sandra.


Email: Peggy Winford

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