1.6 Explain how independent advocacy can help to meet communication needs and the circumstances in which it might be required

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

Unit 2: Advanced Communication Skills

LO1: Understand communication needs and factors affecting them

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1.6 Explain how independent advocacy can help to meet communication needs and the circumstances in which it might be required

“Independent advocacy is a service designed to help people who may need additional support in some areas of their lives. It enables the person to identify their own needs and make informed choices about what they want.” (Advocacy UK Legal Guide, 2009)

Independent advocacy is an individualised voluntary service for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems. Supporting someone through independent advocacy means giving them the opportunity to be heard and understood; enabling them to make choices; helping them make decisions; and protecting their rights, wishes and feelings. Sometimes it is necessary for an advocate to let the supported person know that they can’t do everything they might like: if this is so, then the role of the advocate is making sure that there are other alternative solutions.

Independent advocates are people who have received training in advocacy, and understand how it can meet the communication needs of someone who may not be able to communicate for themselves. Advocacy is based on unconditional positive regard – respecting someone’s views whatever they might be, even if we don’t necessarily agree with them (Advocacy UK).

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Independent advocacy is a type of communication that is used to support people with disabilities so that they can have an equal opportunity to access and participate in the community. It can help to meet communication needs by providing information, ideas, and suggestions that will help to improve communication for the person who needs it.

Some ways in which independent advocacy can help to meet communication needs include:

  • Helping individuals find out about available resources and services
  • Assisting with the development of individualized communication plans
  • Providing support and feedback for family members, caregivers, and service providers
  • Acting as a link between individuals and agencies or service providers
  • Helping to arrange assessments and evaluations for communication services or devices.

There are many different circumstances in which independent advocacy might be required. For example, if someone has a mental health condition and is being detained under the Mental Health Act, they would need an advocate to support them through the process and ensure their rights are protected. If someone has a physical condition that restricts their movement or communication, they might need an advocate to help them access healthcare, improve their quality of life, and prevent abuse. If someone is a child or young person who needs an advocate, there are guidelines to help parents/carers find the right independent advocate.

If a person has a learning disability or mental health condition that means they need extra support in some areas of their lives, then independent advocacy can provide them with someone who understands how to meet those communication needs. There are no circumstances in which it would be appropriate for anyone else to act as an advocate on behalf of another person – this must always be left up to the individual’s chosen advocate.

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