Care home advocate
£16,000 + per year
In this job you would help residents in care homes to understand the decisions which affect their lives. The most important part of your work would be to make sure residents' views and wishes are heard, and that those responsible for their care don't make assumptions about what's best for them.
To do this job, you will need excellent listening and people skills. You will need to respect people's independence and their feelings. You will also need a non-judgemental and open-minded approach.
There is no set route to getting this job. 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.
Your tasks would typically include:
- making sure residents are treated fairly and with dignity
- finding and explaining relevant information
- helping residents to explore their options and make informed decisions
- making sure residents have access to their care plan
- helping residents to speak for themselves or speaking on their behalf
- helping to negotiate with third parties
- accompanying 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 or part-time hours, depending on the particular job.
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 around £16,000 and £25,000 a year.
Coordinators and managers can earn around £30,000.
Many advocates work as volunteers, and paid positions are often part-time. Volunteers 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. However, 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 below to find out if they have any volunteering opportunities. As a volunteer you would receive training and support to develop your skills.
For both paid and volunteer advocate work you must pass background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). See the DBS website for more information.
It could be an advantage if you are 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 that is not just open to their own staff and volunteers.
Visit the Action for Advocacy website for details of the City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate and Diploma in Independent Advocacy, other available training and general information on advocacy and Code of Practice guidelines for advocates.
Some advocacy organisations have gained accreditation for their qualifications from the Open College Network, but these are only recognised at a local level.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a care home advocate, you should have:
- excellent listening, communication and people skills
- respect for peoples’ independence, feelings, beliefs and rights
- self-confidence and negotiating skills
- commitment to representing residents’ views, whether you agree with them or not
- a non-judgemental and open-minded approach
- the ability to empower people rather than trying to solve problems for them.
Older People's Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL UK)
Action for Advocacy
Dementia Advocacy Network
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.
For details of local advocacy organisations see websites such as Action for Advocacy, Older People's Advocacy Alliance and Dementia Advocacy Network (part of Westminster Advocacy Service for Senior Residents).
With experience you could progress to a more senior role, such as advocacy coordinator.
These organisations may advertise vacancies, or you could approach them to find out about opportunities for volunteering.
Related industry information
Adult social care is part of the sector represented by Skills for Care, which is one of the partners that comprise Skills for Care and Development Sector Skills Council. This includes those working in early years, children and young people’s services, and those working in social work and social care for children and adults in the UK. The social care sector comprises two sub-sectors:
- Adult social care – with a workforce of nearly 1.5 million, accounting for 5% of England’s workforce, and 38,000 employers
- Children and young people – with an estimated workforce of 2.7 million
During 2007/08, approximately 2.3 million adults used publicly funded social work and social care services in the UK. Adult social care includes residential care, domiciliary care and social work with all its specialism's.
There are an estimated 1.5 million workers providing adult social care services and more than 38,000 employers. Skills for Care are responsible for the training standards and development needs of social work and social care staff working with adults in England. This includes staff working in local authority social services and related services, the regulated sector (care homes, domiciliary care services and home nursing services), non-regulated day care and community care services, and employed by individuals for their own or another person’s care and support.
- Of the 1.39 million in adult social care in England: 1.31 million are directly employed; and 78,000 are bank, pool and agency staff, students and others
- The adult social care workforce can also include:
- 25,460 full-time equivalent social workers
- 14,000 learning mentors
- 2,247 educational psychologists
- Of the 14,456 care-only homes registered with CSCI* at June 2007:
- 9,870 (68%) are private sector
- 3,251 voluntary sector
- most of the remaining are operated by councils
- Most social care services (58%) are provided by micro organisations (or agencies) employing between 1-10 people or small enterprises (29%) employing between 11-49 people.
- 12% of social care enterprises employ 50-99 people and 1% employ 200 or more.
- In 2007, 54,151 individuals were receiving direct payments to fund their own care.
* CSCI was replaced by the Care Quality Commission in 2009.
Jobs in adult social care include: administrative staff, ancillary staff, care workers, community support and outreach workers, counsellors, first-line managers, occupational therapists, registered managers, senior care workers, senior management, social workers, supervisors, technicians.
National and regional data
[N.B. National and regional data are currently unavailable.]
Industry information produced Sept 2010, using Skills for Care and Development AACS LMI report (Jun 2010)
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