Advocacy is when someone makes sure that your opinion and experiences are properly heard by health or social services. They can also make contact with organisations on your behalf if you are not comfortable doing this, and will make sure that none of the things you want to say get forgotten or missed or ignored.
Contact your local carer service and ask if advocacy is something they can support you with. Or they may be able to put you in touch with other local organisations that provide advocacy.
Some advocacy organisations advocate for specific groups of people, for example carers or people with mental ill health (see MIND).
Carers UK have a self-advocacy guide for carers called Being Heard which provides information and suggests way to help carers advocate for themselves.
Advocacy for NHS complaints in England
The NHS Complaints Advocacy service can help if you want someone to support you step by step when you make an NHS complaint. For example, an advocate will also be able to attend meetings with you and review any information you are given during the complaints process.
Your local Healthwatch will also be able to help you make a complaint. Find your nearest local Healthwatch.
If you want to complain about a hospital, community care or mental health service (not GP or dentist) the patient advice and liaison service (PALS) may be able to help you sort out the issue. They can explain the complaints process and help you work out what is the best option for you. PALS teams are usually hospital based. Search for your nearest PALS online.
Advocacy for NHS complaints in Wales
Your Community Health Council can help you to make a complaint about the NHS in Wales. They provide free and independent advocacy.
Advocacy for NHS complaints in Scotland
Your local Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) can support you if you want to make an NHS complaint in Scotland. This may include supporting you if you are going to a meeting, helping you write letters and make phone calls, and also helping you find suitable health and social care services. You can also contact any Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland to ask about PASS.
The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) can also help you to find an independent advocate, or give more information on what advocacy is.
Advocacy for NHS complaints in Northern Ireland
Next update due: June 2017