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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Mr Austin.
Like other hon. Members, I would like to share some cases to do with the issue of appropriate advocacy. Briefly, I will describe a simple intervention by an advocate who challenged assumptions made by care home staff and improved the quality of life of a person living with dementia. A relevant person’s paid representative was appointed for a woman who, it was reported, had been financially abused by her child following her diagnosis of dementia. She had been placed in a care home by the local authority because of safeguarding concerns.
Visits from the RPPR identified that the woman appeared to be happier now that she was not subject to the conduct and behaviour of her child. However, she had none of her own clothes, photographs or personal artefacts with her. When she was asked about that, she said that that made her feel sad. The RPPR made representations and said that if she had those possessions, she might be happier. Contact was made with her child. The intervention resulted in her child bringing items of clothing and photographs to the care home and also having some supervised contact with her mother. The woman told the representative that she was happy for that to continue.
The care home staff had initially provided information that the woman was content and did not need anything further, but the difference in her demeanour when she was wearing her own clothing and surrounded by personal artefacts was remarkable. She even wrote a note to her advocate, thanking her for supporting her and helping to get her child back in her life. Later on, her child wished to take her out of the care home, but the RPPR listened to the woman, who said she wanted to stay where she was, and supported her to make the decision to remain where she felt safe and comfortable.
That case illustrates why appropriate advocacy must be available to all who need it. The new legislation must ensure the right of the person to object to and challenge arrangements if they wish and to have the support and representation to do so. Support from an IMCA should not depend on a person’s best interests, as defined by other people. It should be a right that everyone is able to access an advocate, and people can then choose to opt out. That would improve the Bill by offering clarity to the cared-for person and the responsible body. I am happy to support the amendment.