Finding Independent Advice
Independent Advice and Support
There are organisations which give independent advice and information. The Local Information has contacts for the organisations in each Council area.
This is an area which is going to expand over the next few years.
- In some places these services have been around for years. In others they are just getting started.
- From 1st April 2014 every person asking the Council about getting support has the right to get independent advice, to help them decide how they want to organise getting support.
- Most of the independent services also give advice to people who are not going through the Council.
Here is a video that one independent advice service has made, explaining what they do;
These are some of the organisations that can give you advice.
- SDS or Direct Payment services give information and can help you work out what you want. Most will also help you find people or organisations to provide the support. Many will also help you manage the money side if you are paying for support yourself or getting a Direct Payment from the Council.
- Carers’ Centres or projects give advice and information to family and friends of people who need support.
- Advocacy projects help when someone finds it hard to explain what they want. People can go there if they feel that other people are not listening to them.
- There are some groups led by people who use support which are using their experience to make it easier for other people.
- Some organisations which provide support also give advice to members or people who want help to use any services. They have made arrangements to keep the advice side independent from the other things they do.
- If you have dementia you may also find it useful to get advice from MECOPP’s Rights, Responsibilities and Respect project. This project provides legal support to people affected by dementia to help them access their rights to Self-directed Support. Click here for more information.
Some independent advice services are able to give good support to everyone. Others have more experience of working with people who have a particular disability or other circumstances.
- Ask about their experience of giving advice and other help to people in your circumstances.
Find an advice service that feels right for you.
- Ask about their values. For example, some of these services are based around peer support and this might be something that is important for you.
- Ask about how they are organised – such as who gives the advice and information to people and what training and back-up support their workers get.
- Find out if they have links with organisations that do other things, for example if they also provide care and support services.
- If they do also provide care services, ask how they keep the advice role separate and independent from that.
You can get help with all aspects of getting support.
- Each independent service will describe what they can help you with.
- If one project can’t help you with something, ask them who else can help. Many projects also have links with other people in the area who can help, for example on points that come up less frequently.
These are the types of advice and information that most projects will offer
- Listening to the person.
- Helping them plan what they want in their life.
- Helping them look ahead and manage changes in their life.
- Helping the person think about what will help them get what they want – such as friends and community, where they live, access to ordinary activities and services and to support services.
- Helping them identify options on ways to arrange support – the SDS options.
- Giving information about services in the area – type of services, organisations and people who provide the support.
- Helping the person make informed choices around services and supports, so the person can also choose which provider they use as well as which type of service.
- Checking back with the person looking for support at every point.
- Keeping an eye on what is happening and reviewing the outcomes.
- Helping the person reflect on how it is working out and thinking about further changes they want as they have more experience or as circumstances change.
These are types of advice and help which some projects offer or arrange, but not all. Sometimes these aspects are called ‘broker support’.
- Organise the services.
- Manage the budgets and arrange how the payments will get made – do this themselves or find someone else who can do it.
- If the person is using a Personal Assistant as part of the support, arrangements for this aspect are managed: recruitment, training, the HR aspects such as on-going supervision and professional support, payroll and making sure everything is right in terms of employment law and good practise.
Some projects will help you identify income. Others can have an arrangement with a local money advice project, as another way of getting more specialist and up-to-date advice.
- This is the money side of getting support for the Council.
- They can also help you with welfare benefits and other ways of increasing your overall income.
- It can also include other sources which can have an impact on the total package – such as income to make changes to the person’s housing which then lets them be more independent or need less routine care services.
There is usually no change for anyone asking for initial advice.
Sometimes the independent advice services will make a charge for longer-term help, such as when you employ a personal assistant and they do the payroll for you.
If you are getting support through the Council, the cost of this service will come from the money the Council gives you.