A day in the life of Advocacy 1st

01 March 2024

Nelson Okaroh-Dae and Zaynah Azad are advocates who are part of our Advocacy 1st service. They specialise in the Care Act, Mental Capacity Act and the Mental Health Act to support people in making informed choices about the care and treatment they receive from the NHS and from social services.

How does your day start?

Nelson: I start my day with a hot cup of coffee and hair at wild angles. When I get to the office at Community ConneX, I greet my colleagues and, yes you guessed it, have another cup of coffee! Then I read through my emails whilst checking which clients I need to visit.A man is sitting at a desk holding a cup of coffee

Zaynah: I spend the first hour of my workday checking and responding to emails. I look over my calendar and create a to-do list so that I can work through all my tasks systematically throughout the day.A woman is looking at her laptop and making a phone call

What does your advocacy work involve?

Nelson: Some days, I make visits to Mental Health wards in local hospitals where I meet either new service users or some of my ongoing clients to see how they are doing.

Sometimes when I’m in the office, I have a Care Act referral. I will review the referral and contact the social worker to get background information and instruction of why I am to visit. Once confirmed, I will call the person who had made the referral and then and arrange a visit.

Working in the office involves a lot of typing up reports, which I submit to my manager to ensure accuracy and transparency. Once my manager has reviewed a report, I email it to the social worker who is dealing with the case. I will then update my calendar to follow up with the social worker.

Zaynah: When I am assigned a new case, I usually spend 10–15 minutes reading the referral. The type of advocacy I provide is dependent on the referral: it could be a Care Act assessment, an Independent Mental Capacity assessment or Health Complaints advocacy.

Once I have understood my instructions for each referral, I call social workers to discuss cases and arrange meetings for assessments to book client meetings. After I have booked my meetings and updated my calendar, I will plan my journey to my meetings, ensuring I take the fastest and safest route on public transport.

What happens when you meet clients?

Nelson: My meetings with clients who need Independent Mental Health Advocacy are private. I help them understand their rights under the Mental Health Act and ensure they understand why they have been sectioned.

We also talk about any challenges or issues they might be facing in the ward. Where possible, I attend ward rounds with patient consent, and challenge the actions of professionals if necessary to support my clients.

When doing my Care Act visits, I start by introducing myself to my client. I will always ensure that they are happy to be supported by me. I then explain my role, confidentiality, consent, and the complaints process. I will ask them their views and wishes on the care and support they need, and their feelings on plans their social worker may have for them.A man is walking outside the Community ConneX head office; he is speaking on his mobile phone

Zaynah: As an Advocate, I engage with a range of clients from young people to vulnerable older people. They have diverse needs such as learning disabilities, mental health issues, physical disabilities, autism, and dementia. During my client meetings it is important that I adhere to the Advocacy Charter. This involves being person-centred and ensuring that I empower my clients.

What do you enjoy most about being an advocate?

Nelson: Being an advocate provides me with many opportunities to understand people’s lives from their perspectives. It’s inspiring learning a person’s life story and helping to ensure that their story has positive interactions as they age and need more mental health and care support.

Zaynah: Each day is different, and I have the chance to engage with different people and hear their unique stories. It’s an incredibly rewarding role because of the impact we have on people’s lives. We enable people to have their rights upheld, increase their independence and personal control over what happens in their lives, and challenge any injustices and restrictions they may be facing.A woman is in an office; she is smiling

 

 

 

 

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