The definition of independent advocacy services used in the Act is given in Section 259(5) of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 which defines independent advocacy services as independent where they are not provided by a local authority, NHS Board or a member of the local authority.
The adult should never be expected to pay for the services. (Section 6 of 2003 Act requires the council to consider the provision of appropriate services, including independent advocacy services, in respect of all suspected adults at risk. Those adults at risk with a mental disorder have an automatic right to such a service under the 2003 Act).
Independent advocacy aims to help people by supporting them to express their own needs and make their own informed decisions. Independent advocates support people to gain access to information and explore and understand the options available to them. In instances where an Advocate suspects or becomes aware of harm being done or abuse in the course of their work this will make an appropriate referral in line with their procedures.
Independent advocacy is provided by specialist organisations that do not provide any other services. It is however recognised that some organisations, such as voluntary sector disability rights groups, who may provide (non-independent) advocacy may also provide housing, financial advice and support services. In such cases it is important to establish any potential conflict of interest.
For further information about advocacy, contact Advocacy Western Isles (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) and the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)