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Advocates for social care assessments and appeals

You always have the right to take someone with you to a social care assessment or appeal if you want to. They do not have to be an advocate.

An advocate should be able to do all of the following:

  • help you to say how things affect you and speak up for what you need
  • provide emotional support
  • help you to understand what an assessor is saying

An advocate can be:

  • a person you already know and trust, like a family member or friend
  • a person from a local charity or advocacy organisation
  • a statutory advocate provided by your local authority, if you are eligible

You are eligible for a statutory advocate from your local authority if you find it hard to say what you need, understand information or make choices.

Warning If your needs are urgent

If your needs are urgent, your local authority does not have to wait until your assessment or appeal to either:

  • start giving you support at home
  • change the support you are receiving

This would be because you've stopped being able to meet your needs. For example, if you've stopped being able to get out of bed and live alone.

Contact your local authority. Say it's about adult social care. Describe your situation and why you need urgent help. You can still do this even if you do not have a social worker.

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

For example:

"I live alone and cannot get out of bed to go to the toilet or feed myself. There is no one else who can help me. I urgently need help now."

If you cannot get an advocate for your assessment or appeal date

Ask to have your assessment or appeal on a different day.

If your local authority refuses, write an email to explain why you need an assessment with an advocate.

For example:

I need help with getting out of bed and washing myself. I can only get the support I need through this assessment. I will struggle without support. I will be at a disadvantage in this assessment without my advocate.

If they refuse again, you could either:

  • say you are going to complain, and see if that helps
  • ask them to refer you for a statutory advocate

If these things do not help, make a formal complaint.

Local organisations

Local charities and advocacy organisations may be able to provide emotional support.

Advocacy services are usually free.

Advocacy (Disability Rights UK)

You may need legal advice if you have questions about:

  • what your legal rights are
  • how the social care system should work

A statutory advocate should be able to answer questions about your rights or social care. But they cannot speak for you like a legal representative would.

Finding free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

If you cannot find an advocate

The Care Act 2014 says that your local authority must make sure that you have an advocate if you find it hard to do any of the following in an assessment or appeal:

  • understand information
  • remember information
  • use information to choose between options
  • say what you want, think and feel

You can ask for an advocate even if

  • you have not used one before
  • you need one because of something that's happened recently
  • you need one sometimes, but not all of the time

If you need an advocate, your local authority must make sure that you have one. They may ask if you have a family or friend who can be your advocate.

You do not have to accept anyone your local authority suggests. If you do not want them to be your advocate, your local authority must find someone else.

The law says that your advocate cannot be your paid carer.

Asking your local authority for an advocate

If you are eligible and do not already have an advocate, your local authority must provide one.

You can ask your local authority for an advocate at any time.

If your social worker knows that you need an advocate, this should happen before your assessment. If you do not have a social worker, you can still ask your local authority for an advocate.

Write to your local authority saying why you need someone to support you. Keep a copy of your request.

You could email something like:

"I find it hard to remember and understand information. Because of this, I always take someone with me to my doctor's appointments. I think I am going to struggle in this assessment. Please can I have an advocate?"

Last reviewed by Scope on: 21/02/2022

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