Lily Huggins, Advocacy Lead, Gaddum
From experience, collaborative care combined with advocacy services, has the potential to transform the lives of individuals in care homes who are subject to a DoLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards). The role of advocacy can be vital in this respect – improving the effectiveness of care by care home staff and the well-being of residents. Furthermore, it’s person-centred approach is a powerful tool to be harnessed.
Advocacy: Collaboration that empowers residents
Advocacy is working with the individual so they’re at the centre of care planning and decision-making. A person-centred approach in advocacy starts by understanding the person’s views and wishes, identifying their needs, and uncovering their strengths and what brings them happiness. This partnership approach empowers residents to actively participate in their care.
Example: A care home resident wasn’t settling in her placement and was experiencing auditory hallucinations for which she had treatment. A Cantonese-speaking nurse provided communication support, and Gaddum provided a culturally appropriate advocate. The advocate took time to understand her cultural, care and support needs, and identified the resident’s first language was Vietnamese and she missed preparing and eating her own cultural foods. Working with the home, an independent Vietnamese interpreter was organised together with supervised kitchen access so she could cook Vietnamese food. This showcased her daily living skills and significantly improved her mood and wellbeing. The advocate also identified that her repetition of English phrases was a translation method she used, and not always auditory hallucinations. This helped the care home better support the resident when experiencing hallucinations.
Enabling Effective Communication:
We train all our advocates in various communication techniques, so residents can express themselves in the most comfortable way – and that’s most effective. Methods include non-verbal cues, visual aids, and technology-assisted approaches. It means residents are better understood, and actively participate in decision-making.
It’s not one size fits all:
Rather than fitting individuals into predefined solutions, an advocate should explore innovative options tailored to each person. For instance, at Gaddum having extensive experience in the community, and a wide network of connections, means we can find both every-day and unconventional solutions to promote well-being.
Example: By building a supportive relationship with a care home resident, an advocate learned that they had a deep love for birds, having kept them in the past. Seeing the significance of this, she worked with the care home and a local pet store to organise the purchase of a pet budgie for him. This simple yet meaningful gesture brought tremendous joy and a sense of purpose to him. It also shows how limiting starting with a solution would’ve been rather than connecting with him to find a solution. I don’t think anyone in my team would’ve considered they’d be buying a budgie, but it was the right solution, and a valuable one.
Connecting with the Community:
We all know the importance of social integration – we’re social creatures after all. So, it’s absolutely the role of an advocate to engage with local community groups to create opportunities for residents to connect, participate, and contribute. By tapping into existing community resources like gardening groups, choirs, amateur dramatics and textile groups, residents can expand their social networks, sense of belonging and in turn, their wellbeing
The Future of Collaborative Care and Advocacy:
Looking ahead, we need to strengthen partnerships between care homes, advocacy organisations like Gaddum, and healthcare providers. I can wholeheartedly say we’re 100% behind this – the only limitation is resource.
Advocacy should also be expanded to support family and friends of the individual subject to a DoLS. Educating and explaining legislation and the appeals process. It’s a gap that absolutely needs addressing.
Collaborative care, supported by advocacy services, has the power to enhance the care home experience for residents. There are many ways advocacy can have a positive impact for all parties – the care home, staff, residents, and their families. The more people who embrace collaborative care and advocacy, the better the quality of life and support we all can give.