Our advocacy services are constantly adapting and evolving to new legislation and developments. Daryl explains how he does this, while ensuring he is also supporting people to have their voice heard.
“I support people who lack the capacity to make important decisions, such as about where they live. As a Mental Capacity advocate, I make sure that each individual’s views and wishes are heard, raise any concerns that they might have and ensure that every decision made is always in a person’s best interests.
The types of cases that I deal with have changed as the Mental Capacity Act has evolved, for example, with the introduction of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). DoLS play a really important role in cases where people are being deprived of their liberty in care homes or hospitals. This could include instances where an individual is being restrained physically or where their contact with others is being controlled. When this happens, an individual can lose autonomy and confidence. I act as a DoLS representative or Relevant Person’s Representative, acting as a third party standing up for the individual to make sure that any decisions taken are done so with the person’s best interests in mind.
If I hadn’t been there, the whole process would have taken much longer
I have another role to play when someone is deprived of their liberty in the community, which can only be authorised by the Court of Protection. The individual may not wish to attend a court case, as this can be quite daunting. The Court of Protection (Amendment) Rules 2015 published this year included a new rule that the court must consider how an individual can be enabled to participate. This is known as Rule 3A and it means I can be called upon by the Court to represent someone in court proceedings when they have no qualified legal representation.
Recently, I supported someone who was living in the community. He was only allowed to leave his house at certain hours of the day, and only when accompanied by staff. In addition, CCTV surveillance was in place. The case was being taken to the Court of Protection in order to authorise the deprivation of liberty.
As the individual didn’t want to go to court, I worked with him to understand what his wishes and feelings were about the situation, and voiced these in a report to the District Judge of the Court of Protection. It’s quite a similar process to a best interest meeting – only this time the decision-maker is a judge in a courtroom.
On the day the case was taken to court, I was able to convey the person’s feelings about the situation. I put forward information about reasonable alterations to the deprivation of liberty that we decided upon together, so that the restriction could be more in line with his wants and wishes. For example, I suggested that he could have more time to be alone without supervision in the flat. I also suggested that an artificial light be installed to offset the fact that all his windows were frosted and he lived in a state of permanent gloom. These were accepted by the court and will make a real impact on his life.
I could get the court to look at the situation from his point of view
If I hadn’t been there, the whole process would have taken much longer, as the court struggled to find someone to represent the individual, and these alterations might not have been considered. I could get the court to look at the situation from his point of view and ensure that they thoroughly considered ways to improve his quality of life.
It is not the first time I have played such a role in the courtroom, and it is an example of how Together can benefit those who need support to have their voice heard. These experiences have enabled me to support and advise my colleagues who might also find themselves playing this role, as it is still relatively new to us.
I believe that this role is invaluable. We can’t support a person up to a certain point and then stop. When I step forward to support someone, we both need to know that I will support them all the way. We as advocates must be wholehearted and fearless.”