Carol's story - the right to liberty
During #AdvocacyAwarenessWeek we're sharing stories which show how advocates work to defend people's basic human rights, and their right to have a say in how and where they live.
Carol, who had been sleeping rough, had gone into a residential care home following a spell in hospital. She had been assessed as lacking capacity and was made subject to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), meaning that she couldn’t leave the care home alone.
Carol didn’t want to stay in the home long-term: she wanted to regain her independence and live in her own place. When advocate Phil met her for the first time as her Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR)*, she had made great efforts to overcome her alcohol dependency.
Advocate Phil says: “I felt that the Mental Capacity Assessment, which had been completed without the assessor meeting Carol, was flawed.”
“I felt that while Carol might have difficulty in the moment, given time she could work things out, and that she did have capacity.”
An initial challenge to the Mental Capacity Assessment failed, but Phil requested a review of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, and this process led to the DoLS being lifted. The review set out the case that Carol could still live safely under less restrictive conditions in the community.
With support from a very dedicated social worker, Carol was able to move into a rented flat, and has remained sober.
“As her advocate, my role was to ensure that Carol’s wishes and feelings were listened to and understood, and that her values were respected,” says Phil.
“Advocacy was there to make sure that the checks and balances that are fundamental to the Mental Capacity Act and the Care Act were carried out.
“Among the challenges facing Carol were the risks that could take her off her set course, and it was part of my role to help her identify these risks and come up with strategies to manage them.
“Another challenge was in persuading other people that someone in Carol’s situation could change their behaviour and lifestyle and maintain that change.
“Advocacy was able to ensure that Carol’s rights were respected, and I am glad that it led to the outcome that she wished for, and that she was entitled to.”
In a note to Phil, Carol said:
“Before I could believe in myself, I needed someone to believe in me. It’s easy to let your life go out of control. It’s not so easy to climb out of the gutter without a helping hand. That is just what my social worker and you gave me.”
*A Paid Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR) is an advocate whose role is to maintain contact with the person and to represent and support them in all matters relating to the deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS). The RPR ensures that the person’s rights are protected. This support is completely independent from the providers of the services the person is receiving.
A Relevant Person’s Representative could also be a friend or a family member: a referral should be made for a paid advocate to take this role when there is no friend or family member available or willing to do so.