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Watching Brief

The core element of an advocacy partnership is a simple one; an instruction. The advocacy partner instructs the advocate what to say and what to do and the advocate obeys the instruction to the best of their ability. It's a very simple and straightforward relationship in which the partner holds power. As the advocate plays no role in determining the care received by the advocacy partner, they can truly and independently represent the views of the partner as if they were their own. This relationship is proven to work well and most advocacy partners feel that it is of benefit to them.

The benefits for advocacy partners have also been recognised across the care system and there has been a steady rise in the provision of independent advocacy across the country. The situation that has always been problematic for advocacy is where the partner - through incapacity or for any other reason - is unable to voice their views, hopes, concerns and complaints to the advocate. In other words, what does an advocate do when their partner is unable to express their views and instruct them?


This watching brief sets out a viable and principled approach to Non-Instructed Advocacy (NIA) that retains the fundamental practices of advocacy whilst avoiding the necessity to revert to best interest approaches or a temptation to walk away. The Watching Brief (WB) is the practical core of NIA and enables the advocacy partner, through the advocate, to have a say in their own care and treatment.

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