Supporting vulnerable people to find their voice

Plans to improve the way vulnerable children and adults are supported to be heard during decisions around their own heath and care, have taken a step forward following a council meeting yesterday (Tuesday 19 December).

Oxfordshire County Council’s advocacy services help people understand their rights, communicate their needs and preferences and ensure that their voices are heard in decisions about their care and support. 

On Tuesday, the council’s cabinet agreed to recommendations that lay the foundations to bring the council’s advocacy services together for both children and adults. This will give providers the opportunity to put forward bids that enhance both services at the same time.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Advocacy is an essential council service and it’s right to regularly review its effectiveness and the support it offers.

“By potentially aligning the provision for both adults and children, we will be able to consider new ways of improving advocacy services as a whole, based on best practice examples used elsewhere in the UK.”

Advocacy is a professional service and can be used to support people in a range of areas including discussions around their health, social care and mental health.

Funding is provided by the county council and Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board (BOB ICB), with BOB ICB responsible for the adult’s health-related elements of the contract.

Dan Leveson, Place Director for Oxfordshire at Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board, said: “This is another example of the way we’re working together with the county council to bring the best quality services to the people of Oxfordshire.

“By reviewing the advocacy service and with the potential to bring both adults and children’s elements under one umbrella, there is a real opportunity to develop it to support even more people in a way that best suits them.”

The council and BOB ICB are also interested in exploring a new model for delivering advocacy, which could include a social value element. This would allow individuals who have accessed the service to use their new skills to influence the design and scope of the support and services that they and others with similar experiences receive.

This model is already in operation in Scotland and supports the council’s commitment to co-production, by working with people with lived experience to improve the services they use for all.

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