Crisis Advocacy

Crisis advocacy addresses a specific issue or situation. It only lasts until the issue has been resolved and is not intended to be ongoing. It is independent of any other service whether private, statutory or voluntary.

An advocate will always encourage a person to speak for themselves wherever this is possible; when this is not possible, advocates try to identify the wishes of the person concerned and represent these interests with determination and persistence.

Issues can include:

  • housing – wanting to move/stay/live independently
  • support – accessing support/changing provider
  • child protection cases
  • parenting
  • personal finances
  • involvement with the legal system
  • access to appropriate health care
  • access to social and community pursuits

Non-Instructed Advocacy

Non-instructed advocacy is for people who cannot tell the advocate of their wishes. The aim is to make sure the person has their rights considered, and is treated the same as anyone else. Advocates make sure that the person’s needs and preferences are taken into account.

Advocates begin by assuming that the person they are advocating for is able to communicate their wishes and make every effort to help the person to understand and communicate what they think. Sometimes the person is not able to communicate what they think or what their opinion is, so a ‘quality of life’ or ‘legal and civil rights’ based approach is used.

This type of advocacy may mean that the advocate has to speak to people involved in the person’s life; such as relatives, friends, or staff. It should always be remembered that they are not doing so in order to follow the wishes of these other people.

IMCA: Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy

An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate works on behalf of someone who ‘lacks capacity’. The IMCA speaks to people who know the person well to try and find out what they may have chosen if they did have capacity. They then write a report which contains any findings they feel is relevant to the decision. They pass on this information to decision makers (such as doctors or social workers) to help them work out what is in the best interests of the person.

An IMCA must be involved when a person who lacks capacity is facing a decision about:

  • serious medical treatment (such as an operation or some medical tests)
  • change in accommodation that is arranged by the local authority (Council) or a hospital stay that is longer than 28 days and they have no-one else to speak for them other than their paid carers.

An IMCA may be involved when a person who lacks capacity is:

  • due to have an accommodation review and they do not have a friend or relative who could be asked to represent their views.
  • a person who lacks capacity is involved in an adult protection case, even if that person has a friend or relative who can speak for them as well.

IMCAs should also be involved when Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) are registered.

IMHA: Independent Mental Health Advocacy

IMHAs help patients to access information and understand their rights under the Mental Health Act. This is so the patient can understand any medical treatment they are receiving or might receive and the reasons for that treatment. The IMHA also supports patients to exercise their rights, which can include representing or speaking on their behalf.

IMHAs sometimes support patients in a range of other ways to ensure they are involved in decisions that are made about their care and treatment e.g. care planning process, mental health review tribunals, aftercare, accessing other support services and raising concerns about their experience/care.

Hospital staff have a duty to ensure patients understand that help is available to them from an IMHA and how they can get that help.


ICAT is a team of advocates who provide support and information around raising concerns and complaints about care and treatment received from the NHS. Accessing ICAT is completely free, independent of the NHS and provides impartial information; acting under your direction for your wishes.


  • Generally support you with your NHS complaint
  • Give you the opportunity to speak with someone who is independent of the NHS in confidence
  • Provide self-help information so you can manage your own complaint
  • Put you in touch with the right people to make your complaint to
  • Help you get interpreting services if you need them
  • Prepare letters for you
  • Prepare for and attend meetings with you
  • Explain and explore different options available to you at each stage of the complaint
  • Speak to people on your behalf where necessary


  • Offer advice – financial, medical, legal or any other kind
  • Make decisions for you
  • Help claim financial compensation
  • Get an NHS employee disciplined
  • Undertake investigations around complaints

Parents with learning disabilities

Parents with learning disabilities are far more likely to have children removed from their care, than most parents are. We advocate for parents who have a learning disability. The number of referrals for this area of our work has grown year on year. The majority of these cases concern families where the children are under a care order, in foster care or going through the adoption process. It often involves supporting parents in court, as well as in Child Protection meetings. This can be a stressful and bewildering time for parents; our dedicated advocates are there to help them understand the process and their rights.

The advocate will:

  • help to ensure, through information sharing with professionals, that the parents get the most appropriate assessment of their parenting capacity. For example promoting the use of the Parenting Assessment Manual (PAMs) which is specifically designed with parents with learning disabilities in mind.
  • help parents to navigate the range of different services involved and liaise between them.
  • help parents to instruct and understand solicitors.
  • help with contact visits and child arrangement orders.

Care Act



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