Thomas* is 18, he was referred to Advocacy Focus by Social Services as there was a concern about his safety in his supported living accommodation. As Thomas has a learning disability, this prevents him from being able to instruct or communicate in a meaningful way.

His mother was also unhappy that Social Services were trying to move him without regard to his wishes and well-being.

How we helped

Prior to visiting Thomas, our Advocate gained information on his level of communication to ascertain if the use of visual aids or other methods would be beneficial in gaining meaningful communication and also to find out the best time of day to visit.

The Advocate then followed the principles of non-instructed advocacy:

Rights Approach

Everyone has the right to a home life and to feel safe and secure -The Advocate looked at the potential rights of the decision being made; checked that there had been all practicable help to involve Thomas in the decision; checked that the least restrictive option was being thoroughly explored and all alternatives were being fully considered.

Person Centred Approach

The Advocate met with Thomas to try to ascertain his wishes and feelings; then met with his mother and his support staff to ascertain their views and past history with the aim of gaining information that would indicate any preferences.

Witness/Observer Approach

The Advocate observed Thomas with his support staff and co-tenants in the home environment to get a sense of his wellbeing with regards to the risks that were a concern to him remaining there.

The Watching Brief

Using the eight domains of the Watching Brief, the advocate addressed the following issues on behalf of Thomas that it was felt were relevant to the decision being made:

Skills and Abilities – that any potential move did not impact negatively in the development of Thomas’s independence and should support him to develop new skills and maintain existing ones.

Community Presence – to ensure that the potential move did not impact on his current presence in the community and cause social isolation

Continuity – that links with his past would be maintained, i.e. the potential accommodation was close enough to not have a negative impact

Choice and Options – ensuring Thomas’s involvement in the decision making and that his views were being taken into account

Individuality – ensuring that his individuality was being promoted

Status and Respect – checking that the decision being made was consistent with Thomas’s age and gender

Partnerships and Relationships – checking that the decision being made would support Thomas to maintain and develop positive relationships

Well-being – ensuring that Thomas’s health, emotional and psychological wellbeing were being addressed

The Advocate then included these issues, along with other information gathered, in a Non-instructed Advocacy Report, which was emailed to the Social Worker.  This report is not a mandatory requirement for non-instructed advocacy, but is felt to be a useful support tool for advocate to present their findings.

Benefits

Freedom from discrimination - Thomas was able to have his views heard even though his learning disabilities meant he had communication difficulties.
Choice and control - Thomas’s views were put forward by the Advocate, the questions posed by the Advocate on his behalf were given full consideration in the decision, giving Thomas more control over the outcome.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people we support