An advocate is a person who protects and promotes people’s human rights, while also respecting their autonomy, privacy, dignity, values, preferences and diversity. Staff in health and social care settings have an important role to play in promoting advocacy services and supporting people to understand and access different types of advocacy.
Advocacy supports person-centred care by placing the person at the centre of any decision-making about their lives and their care. At HIQA, we are committed to promoting person-centred care and supporting staff to uphold a human rights based approach to care. HIQA has now produced a new set of resources on advocacy to help staff incorporate it into their day-to-day work.
All national standards published by HIQA have a focus on advocacy, particularly the National Standards for Adult Safeguarding and the Guidance on a Human RightsBased Approach in Health and Social Care. The new online learning course, booklet and educational video on advocacy will help health and social care staff implement national standards and support people using services to have their human rights met.
These learning resources were developed in response to a recommendation of the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel Report. The report highlighted the ongoing need for advocacy services for nursing home residents, their families and friends during the pandemic.
Several respondents to the Expert Panel emphasised the need to create a new narrative of care for older people incorporating the language of inclusion and empowerment. The final report recommended that HIQA ‘continue to highlight and promote independent advocacy services to residents’, and that the rights of residents – in terms of dignity, freedom, choice and equality –need to be respected and at the forefront of policy.
Yet, knowledge of advocacy is still low in health and social care services. The first National Nursing Home Experience Survey, published in November 2022, found that there was limited awareness of advocacy organisations and how to access advocacy supports among both nursing home residents and their relatives and friends.
In particular, most nursing home residents (77%) said that they did not know how to access advocacy services or organisations that could help them to express their views and wishes, and to help them to assert their rights.
The survey found that 28.9% of relatives and friends said that they did not know how to contact organisations that can support their relative or friend to express their views and wishes, and help them to assert their rights.
HIQA’s resources on The Fundamentals of Advocacy in health and social care are designed to improve knowledge and understanding of advocacy and to support people to have their human rights met.
The resources will help health and social care staff understand their role in advocacy, which includes listening to people and supporting them to have their voices heard, supporting them to have their will and preferences met, and respecting their autonomy and confidentiality.
HIQA recommends that all health and social care staff complete the one hour online course, read the booklet and watch the video to improve their knowledge and understanding of advocacy and to help them put national standards into practice in their day-to-day work.
We hope that these resources will help ensure that people using health and social care services have their human rights met at all times.
The new resources are available on the HIQA website, and the online learning course is also available on HSeLanD.
At HIQA, we are committed to promoting a person’s human rights, through supporting staff to uphold a human rights based approach to care. If you wish to learn more about advocacy in national standards, you can find the National Standards for Adult Safeguarding and the Guidance on a Human Rights-Based Approach in Health and Social Care on the HIQA website. You can also visit HSeLanD to access our online learning courses; National Standards for Adult Safeguarding, and Applying a Human Rightsbased Approach in Health and Social Care.
Written by Rachel Flynn, Director of Health Information and Standards, HIQA