Care home advocate
30-37 per week
£18,000 + per year
Care home advocates help residents in care homes to understand the decisions which affect their lives. They make sure residents' views and wishes are heard. They also make sure that those responsible for their care don't assume what's best for them.
If you want to work with elderly people and help to improve the quality of their lives, then this job could be ideal for you.
In this job, you would need excellent listening and people skills. You would also need to be open-minded and respect someone's independence and feelings.
There is no set route to get into this job, though you may find it useful to have experience with this age group. You would also need to get clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Your tasks would typically include:
- making sure residents are treated fairly and with dignity
- finding and explaining information
- helping residents to explore their options and make informed choices
- making sure residents have access to their care plan
- helping residents to speak for themselves or speaking on their behalf
- helping to negotiate with others involved in decisions
- going with residents to meetings to provide moral support, or attending meetings on their behalf
- liaising with care home staff and other agencies.
You could give support on many issues, including choice of accommodation, care home closure, discontentment with the service, exploitation or abuse (physical, psychological, financial or sexual). Other issues would cover financial matters, power of attorney, and disputes or difficulties with family members.
You could work full-time, 30 to 37 hours a week, or part-time, depending on the particular job. Sessional work is also sometimes available.
You would have an office base, but would spend most of your time visiting clients in care homes and attending meetings.
Your work could be emotionally demanding, as some of the issues you deal with may be distressing.
Full-time advocates can earn between £18,000 and £25,000 a year.
Coordinators and managers can earn between £25,000 and £30,000.
Many advocates work as volunteers, and paid positions can be part-time. Volunteers would usually receive travel expenses.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
There is no set route to becoming an advocate. Employers will expect you to show a positive attitude to ageing and an understanding of the needs of older people. You may find it useful to have experience with this age group, from paid work, volunteering, or experience as a user of advocacy or care services.
Experience, such as care work, social work or counselling, could be an advantage. Employers are likely to place more importance on your skills than on your qualifications.
Starting as a volunteer advocate would be a good way to gain experience. You could contact the advocacy services listed in the More information section to find out if they have any volunteering opportunities. As a volunteer you would receive training and support to develop your skills.
If you wish to do some training before becoming a volunteer, you could take a basic training course in advocacy, offered by a number of private training companies.
You could also contact Do-it to find more general voluntary work with older people.
For both paid and volunteer work, you must pass background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
For some job roles, it could be an advantage if you're able to speak a community language.
Training and development
As a paid or volunteer advocate, you would receive induction training, supervision and support through your employer. You may also be able to attend training offered by other advocacy organisations, as some provide training to all, not just to their own staff and volunteers.
Some private training providers offer nationally recognised qualifications such as:
- Level 2 Award in Independent Advocacy
- Level 3 Certificate in Independent Advocacy
- Level 3 Diploma in Independent Advocacy.
Also, there are advocacy organisations that have gained accreditation for their qualifications from the National Open College Network (NOCN). These qualifications may be available through your local college.
Standards are maintained in the advocacy sector by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi). They work with a number of organisations such as Age UK and the Care Quality Commission.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a care home advocate, you should have:
- excellent listening, communication and people skills
- respect for people's independence, feelings, beliefs and rights
- self-confidence and negotiating skills
- commitment to representing residents’ views, whether you agree with them or not
- a non-judging and open-minded approach
- the ability to work with people to overcome their problems.
Older People's Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL UK)
You could be employed by local or national advocacy organisations. Advocates are impartial, and should not be employed by the organisation providing the care home service. Employers are usually voluntary organisations.
With experience you could progress to a more senior role, such as advocacy coordinator.
For details of local advocacy organisations see websites such as Older People's Advocacy Alliance.
You may find the following useful for job vacancies and further reading:
Job market information
This section gives you an overview of the job area that this profile belongs to. You can use it to work out your next career move. It can help if you’re looking for a job now or want to do some further training.
The 'Market statistics' charts are based on figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The list of job vacancies under 'Apply for jobs' is from the Universal Jobmatch database. The vacancies are not from the National Careers Service.