What is an Advocate?

What is an Advocate?

Have you ever thought about becoming an advocate? Are you wondering what is involved in being an advocate and what responsibility might go with it? In this blog I hope to answer a few of the questions in relation to becoming a volunteer advocate in a Nursing Home.

The word advocate literally means “a person who puts a case on someone else’s behalf”. While there are many elderly people in Nursing homes who have families and friends that can assist them in voicing any concerns or needs there are also many people who do not have that support.
There are many things that change for a person as they grow older, which includes managing memory loss issues, complicated medical problems, and medications. Advocates in a nursing home environment are volunteers who can help the Resident understand and handle these things. Their whole purpose is to ensure the Resident’s care is looked after no matter who is actually caring for them.

Who can become an Advocate?

You may ask what makes a good advocate, am I qualified to take this on, do I have enough time? All valid questions; An advocate would normally be an individual who has experience working with the elderly, someone who has sufficient time to volunteer, this can often be someone retired or who has additional free time in their day. Having experience working with the elderly while beneficial, is not mandatory. Sometimes a person who has cared for their own elderly family member may want to do this for others too and may have lots of knowledge to contribute.

What do I have to do?

We welcome queries from anyone interested in becoming an advocate. If you would like to contact us at Beechtree for more information please email or call us on 01 843 3634
There is an interview and garda vetting procedure before being given the role of an advocate. Once approved you would be given guidelines on what exactly your role entails including regular visits to the nursing home where you are the advocate, meeting the residents, building up relationships with resident and becoming familiar to them. This can then lead to residents voicing concerns or complaints if they have any, it is your responsibility to then follow the complaints procedure and assist the resident in finding a suitable outcome.
Dealing and speaking with families and friends of residents may make up part of your role too.
Providing a voice for those who cannot use theirs is the most important task of this role and often may be what motivates advocates to volunteer in the first place.

It is worth remembering that an advocate is a volunteer role and there is no charge made to the Person receiving the advocacy for this service.

For some more research you can check out the following sites:
Advocacy Programme For Older People In Residential Settings
Advocacy Services
National Advocacy Programme Alliance