COVID-19 restrictions have meant that our advocates have been supporting people remotely, whilst still making sure they are they feel empowered. Advocate, Alex, tells us how Jane (not her real name) was able to clearly communicate her views and wishes by email.
Earlier this year (2020) I received an Independent Care Act Advocacy (ICAA) referral for Jane, a young woman with cerebral palsy and aplasia. Jane’s social worker told me that due to the way aplasia can affect communication, she was unclear about Jane’s capacity and also found it difficult to fully understand Jane’s views.
Jane hadn’t responded to my earlier contact but when #COVID19 restrictions started, Jane emailed me. She said that she would prefer to write to me rather than speak on the phone. We continued a regular email conversation where Jane gradually told me more about her situation and I was able to ask questions to make sure I understood what she was saying and gather the right information. We were able to build a rapport over email and I gained Jane’s trust so she felt able to tell me about her life and her views and wishes about what she wanted. I was also able to give Jane information about her rights as an adult (Jane felt that some people tended to treat her like a child due to her disabilities).
Because Jane felt more confident communicating in writing (by email) than verbally, gradually she gained confidence in her own ability to ‘speak up’ and was able to express her wishes in relation to being safe that she wanted included in her care and support plan.
From the emails (and with Jane’s permission) I was able to write a detailed report setting out Jane’s wishes and views which I sent to her social worker. The social worker then met with Jane to review and agree a care and support plan. The COVID-19 restrictions meant that I could not attend the meeting in person, so a full report was essential.
This made a significant difference to Jane, to her social worker and to the outcome of the meeting: Jane’s social worker responded positively by accurately describing Jane’s wishes and the care and support Jane needs and wants.
Jane was delighted that through advocacy she found a way of communicating that works well for her, helping her to speak up and achieve the outcome she wanted. Afterwards Jane emailed me to say; “I feel like more control in my life since I met you through the emails. And I became more stronger with my views."