Advocacy Services in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (the Trust) area

Closed 20 Nov 2020

Opened 13 Nov 2020


The Way Forward



  1. Summary position
  2. Summary of requirements
  3. Questionnaire


Summary Position

1.1       Previously Trust advocacy services as noted below were procured and awarded to a number of community and voluntary sector Providers for 3 years with the option to extend for further periods up to 24 months:  

  • Carers of those in receipt of mental health services (Contract commencement date 1 January 2016 – Cause (NI) Ltd)
  • Adult mental health Service Users (Contract commencement date 1 January 2016 – Inspire Wellbeing Ltd)
  • Adults with a learning disability (Contract commencement date 1 January 2016 – Disability Action (NI) Ltd)
  • Adults with a physical and or sensory learning disability (Contract commencement date 1 April 2016 - Disability Action (NI) Ltd)
  • Young people aged 16+ transitioning to adult services (Contract commencement date 1 January 2017 - Disability Action (NI) Ltd)


1.2       Given that these contracts are now coming to an end there is a requirement, in line with the Public Contract Regulations 2015, to re-procure these services.

1.3       To inform this process the Trust wishes to engage with relevant stakeholders, specifically Service Users, Carers and those organisations who may be interested in providing these services, to seek feedback on:

-           Changes required to existing services to ensure they are fit for purpose to meet the needs of Service Users and Carers going forward

-           Services, solutions and options on offer from the market






Why we are consulting

Summary of Requirements

2.0    Introduction

2.1    The Trust is now seeking to re-procure advocacy services across the Trust area for the range of client groups noted below, which reflect the principles and standards detailed in the ‘Developing Advocacy Services – A Policy Guide for Commissioners’ (May 2012) developed by DHSSPS (Appendix 1):

  • Carers of those in receipt of mental health services
  • Adult mental health Service Users and young people aged 17.5+ transitioning to adult mental health services
  • Adults with a learning disability and young people aged 16+ transitioning to adult learning disability services
  • Adults with a physical and or sensory learning disability and young people aged 16+ transitioning to physical and or sensory disability services
  • Those in receipt of Older People and Primary Care services    

Points to note:

  • Previously advocacy services for young people aged 16+ transitioning to adult services were procured separately from adult services. For the purpose of continuity of service for Service Users it is now proposed that services for young people and adults, are procured as a combined service as outlined above.  
  • The proposal to procure advocacy services for those in receipt of Older People and Primary Care Services is to establish a new service.     

2.2    As it is widely accepted that advocacy can be delivered in a variety of ways depending on the needs of the person requiring this type of support, the service will offer as appropriate the full range of advocacy models noted below:

  • Citizen Advocacy
  • Self / Group Advocacy
  • Peer Advocacy
  • Issue-based Advocacy
  • Non-instructed Advocacy

2.3    While the full range of Advocacy Models noted above may be required, Issue-based Advocacy and Non-instructed Advocacy Models may be required for a significant number of Service Users.

2.4    The service will be available for eligible Service Users who live in the Trust area; including those that are residing within a wide range of environments from acute hospital settings, other hospitals, nursing and residential homes, supported living accommodation or other facilities both inside and outside the Trust geographical area, throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, who remain the responsibility of the Trust.    

2.5    The contract periods will be for 3 years with an option to extend for further periods of up to 24 months.

2.6    The activity associated with these services will be managed on an individual case by case basis. The full range of advocacy need required by individuals will be taken into account in totality and resources will be targeted in relation to complexity. 

3.0    Objectives 

3.1    Key objectives of the service are:

  • To help to promote equality of opportunity, social justice and the protection of human rights.
  • To support Service Users to make more informed decisions to enable them to lead more independent, inclusive lives by enabling them to express views, communicate choices and receive services.
  • To provide support primarily in relation to health and social care issues which may also address issues around housing, employment, education or leisure issues, if support with these issues will promote peoples overall health and wellbeing.  

4.0    Key Tasks

4.1    While not an exhaustive list, the role of the Advocate will be to support, discuss options, represent, negotiate on behalf of and enable Service Users by:

  • Providing information on advocacy provision.
  • Promoting access to the service in a range of settings.
  • Liaising if applicable, with Service Users before discharge from hospital and continuing if required in the community.
  • Liaising where appropriate, between different hospital units, social services departments and other community facilities as an advocate for people who may be unable or reluctant to represent themselves directly to services. (The service must link (where appropriate) to existing service networks, where such networks are designed to improve the co-ordination of services to Service Users).  
  • Representing Service Users views at all levels within the Trust including meetings with the Senior Management Team and relevant Service Managers.
  • Participating in clinical audits where appropriate.
  • Participating in clinical governance meetings.  
  • Conducting Service User satisfaction surveys and engaging in Public and Personal Involvement initiatives.
  • Providing support in exercising legal rights, e.g. Mental Health Tribunals, guardianship applications and Mental Capacity Act application and review. 
  • Supporting Service Users in care reviews and safeguarding cases.
  • Assisting Service Users who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System or leave prison.
  • Providing support to Service Users who have been distanced from Trust Supports / Social Services.
  • Supporting Service Users who would like to make a complaint or share compliments.
  • Supporting Service Users involved in safeguarding issues ensuring they understand their rights, the process to be followed and to ensure they receive appropriate and specific feedback on all issues arising from it.
  • Actively engaging with the community and other organisations to ensure any benefits from working collaboratively can be realised:
    • Linking with other agencies, regulatory bodies e.g. RQIA
    • Linking with other community services e.g. Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Citizens Advice, Law Centre (NI) etc.  
  • Acting as part of a multi-disciplinary best interest group for Service Users who lack capacity and are faced with serious medical treatment and long term care moves, which is in line with the Mental Capacity (NI) Act 2019. 
  • Providing information and support to those who are subject to, or being considered for the process of, application for authorisation of deprivation of liberty under the Mental Capacity (NI) Act 2016. 
  • Supporting Service Users (who are parents) and who are involved with child protection services to include court appearances, LAC reviews, case conferences etc. to ensure the rights of the parent are upheld and their voice is central to every stage of the process.
  • Supporting Service Users who are / or have been resettled from long stay hospitals to assist these individuals to have control over their lives and be fully involved in decisions that affect them.
  • Remaining involved with Service Users who have been resettled for a continuous time to ensure the transition and settling in period takes account of meetings, compatibility, individual choice, betterment, individuals Human Rights and least Restrictive Practice.
  • Providing support to Service Users who are unsure if they want to remain in a particular setting i.e. day care, supported living, home and need someone independent to the Trust / Carer(s) to support them raise their own concerns and help them to make decisions in their best interest.
  • Providing information and signposting to other services who may assist in resolving issues and concerns. 

5.0    Outcomes

5.1    The Provider will maximise the number of Service Users who:

  • Are able to access advocacy and have their rights safeguarded (Are supported to exercise their statutory right to advocacy)
  • Report improved knowledge and understanding of their rights (Are able to speak for themselves and / or otherwise get their views heard)
  • Report improved choice and control over the services they receive (Are empowered to make informed choices and decisions about their care and treatment and to take greater control over their lives).
  • Report positive outcomes (Are supported to seek resolution of the issue(s) which they sought advocacy for).

   5.2    The Provider will ensure there is:

  • Enhanced understanding by Trust Staff, at all levels, of the issues and concerns affecting those using the advocacy service.
  • Enhanced signposting and accessing of services required by Service Users.
  • Increased cohesiveness / joint working across the range of services available to Service Users.
  • Increased Service User participation / representation and links with Personal / Public Involvement (PPI).
  • Increased cohesiveness in approach to service delivery within the community, statutory and voluntary sector services. 
  • Increased collaboration in relation to service development and new ways of working to meet Service User needs.

6.0    Location of Service Delivery

6.1    The Provider will have available a range of suitable venues and accommodation across the Trust area  which comply with Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) requirements and where Service Users can be interviewed in private and away from clinical staff.

6.2    Appointments will be accessible across the Trust in line with Service User choice of location and the timing of the service targeted to Service User needs.




















  • Carers


  • Patient/service user advocacy