I’d like to share my experience about the difference Solent Mind’s Advocacy Service can make. I am an Advocate in Portsmouth working with a volunteer who visits my clients on my behalf who are in care homes.
The Government made rules to make sure that people can be cared for or treated in a way that protects them from harm and is in their best interests. These rules are called the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The Safeguards are for people who cannot make a decision about the way they are being treated or cared for in a hospital or care home.
The vulnerable people we support are in care homes because they have a special agreement called a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Authorisation (DoLS). People who have that agreement must have a Representative who visits them regularly. If the person has no friends or family to take on this role, our Solent Mind Advocacy Service is commissioned to provide it.
A Representative checks that the way the person is being looked after means they are safe. The person or their Representative can ask for a review of the DoLS if they are unhappy about being deprived of their liberty. They can also ask a special court called the Court of Protection to decide if they should be deprived of their liberty.
We recently supported a gentleman who was moved to a care home from Queen Annes Hospital because the doctors thought he was near to the end of his life. He had no friends or family who could visit him but was visited regularly by our volunteer. She noted his gradual improvement and observed how good the staff were with him. She was particularly interested in how he was able to communicate his wishes and she recorded that he was able to use a ‘thumbs down’ when he was not happy with something. He seemed to be regaining the communication skills he had before and was eating and drinking well. The care professionals though that he was doing very well, too.
Our volunteer knew the gentleman had previously had a very big TV and a huge sensory lamp in his previous care home, and we made sure we spoke to the new home about those things. He loved Pompey Football Club and our volunteer made sure the home knew about this too. She asked care staff to make sure that he could watch his TV if football was on. She also asked them to get a DVD of Pompey FC. The home got two DVDS and gave him a Pompey Football blanket as well. When our volunteer visited him next, she was delighted when he held the blanket up to show her. She also phoned the home to make sure his radio was tuned in to the latest Pompey FC’s home game.
Sadly, this gentleman passed away quite suddenly. The home let us know that he had enjoyed watching the two DVDs, just before he died.
I asked the manager of the home about our volunteer and what she thought of our service. She said that the key thing was the consistency of our volunteer’s visits, and the professionalism that she showed. The manager felt that the mutually respectful relationship that had developed between the care home and our volunteer meant that good individualised care could be provided to the resident we represented.
I would like to celebrate the difference Advocacy can make. Our Solent Mind services often support people to manage their particular lives whilst living independently in the community, but our service has a special duty with a big impact. Our service and volunteers show great care and empathy for someone at the end of their life and always ensure their wishes are conveyed with dignity.
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