Anne and Farah
Anne is one of our four Care Act Advocates in Rochdale. Farah is someone she supported this year.
“The climate that care and support services are operating in has become increasingly difficult as budget cuts and increased workloads can mean that some people just don’t get the support they need.
The role of a Care Act Advocate is to speak on behalf of those who have substantial difficulty expressing their views, wishes and feelings, and no appropriate individual who can assist them to do so. Ultimately, Care Act Advocacy enables people to challenge social care services if they feel they are not meeting their needs.
Part of my role is to support people whose packages have been reduced as a result of budgetary cuts. This can mean that they may no longer be receiving a sufficient service. During this process, they might not have been consulted about current needs or recent personal changes
At other times, people can struggle because social services and health professionals may speak in jargon or complex language that they don’t fully understand. The implications of this are they might not fully comprehend what care package is being offered to them. I take the time to listen to the person and gain a comprehensive picture of their needs. I also make sure they are not pressured into accepting an inadequate care package.
I take the time to listen to the person
The Care Act gave carers a legal right to a care assessment and support service if eligible. Many carers find that reductions in care packages put an extra, often intolerable, burden on them. Part of my role is to support carers during the assessment or reassessment process, to enable them to state their views on their caring role and any ensure the assessor is aware of their limitations and any stress they are under due to that role.
A Care Act Advocate’s role is also different from other advocacy roles as people don’t have to lack capacity to receive support. I might support someone who has the capacity to understand the assessment process but may find it difficult to challenge Social Services’ decisions.
I was a Social Worker for 30 years before I joined Together in 2015 as a Care Act Advocate in Rochdale, so I understand why this role is so important to service users and carers. As Care Act Advocacy was a new role for me (as it is for many others!), Together provided plenty of training and forums, and my Manager was very supportive during the transition. It is a learning curve and we are now beginning to understand our boundaries and limitations as the role evolves.
I really enjoy advocacy and find it fulfilling when people get the outcome they want and need. For example, I supported Farah (see below) to get the support she was entitled to for herself and for her sister, for whom she is the main informal carer.
When I first came into contact with Farah, she had been given notification that the support she was receiving for her sister was being withdrawn. Farah needed support to ensure that she and her sister could continue to get appropriate care.
“I am a carer for my sister, who has learning and physical disabilities. I also have a mother with physical health issues and look after my two daughters, so sometimes my life can be stressful.
On top of this, my own health has deteriorated recently, so I was finding it difficult to juggle all of my caring roles, especially as they are increasing. I also needed support to look after myself with all that was going on around me.
I first came into contact with Together’s advocacy service in Rochdale because we’d had a letter from the agency that was providing support for my sister at home to say that they would no longer be able to provide support. This was due to cuts in Local Authority funding. We had only about six weeks to deal with this before they would stop providing support.
I tried my best to contact Social Services – I’d left numerous messages and was desperate and worried about what would happen if I couldn’t find support for my sister.
I was relieved to hear that I might be able to get support with making my case
When someone told me about Together’s Your Voice service, I was relieved to hear that I might be able to get support with making my case. My advocate, Anne, contacted Social Services and managed to get a Social Worker allocated to my sister. Anne then supported us in the meetings with Social Services and that helped to ease lots of the stress I was under.
Ultimately, I felt like having Anne there meant I could get across what we both needed really clearly. I sometimes get worked up and say things that I might regret later, so having Anne there was really helpful.
After going through a process with Anne’s help, we were able to select a new provider and I’m really happy with the support they are providing.
Anne is also looking into the option of me receiving extra respite. I hope that with extra breaks from caring for my sister, I’ll be able to get more rest and that my own health will improve.”