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Independent Advocacy service launched for people with autism and learning disabilities

31 March 2021

As we celebrate World Autism Awareness Week, Health and Community Services (HCS) is delighted to announce a new independent advocacy service for people with autism and learning disabilities.

This will initially be for a 12-month pilot period and will be provided by My Voice Jersey who already offer independent advocacy services for people suffering from mental illness.

The new service includes supporting people with autism and learning disabilities:

  • where the individual is going through a social care needs assessment, a care review, or a safeguarding investigation and
  • if the individual lacks mental capacity to the extent that they will have substantial difficulty in being involved in a decision and
  • if the individual does not have any appropriate, and able and/or willing family or friends to support the individual's active involvement.

Referrals to My Voice Jersey are now being accepted from health or social care professionals for complex individuals who have been formally diagnosed with a learning disability or autism.

Professionals and charities who support people with learning disabilities or autism should contact My Voice Jersey for more information:

Robert Gardner, Head of Learning Disability Services, Health and Community Services, said: "We're delighted that we're now able to ensure that people diagnosed with a learning disability or autism have an independent organisation that can advocate on their behalf. This is a vital service that will mean people feel listened to and are able to participate more in decision making about their care or treatment."

Patricia Winchester, CEO of My Voice Jersey, said: "This really is a welcome initiative for people with learning disabilities or autism. Independent advocacy services can be used in many different scenarios from seeking permissions for vaccines to helping people understand that they have legal and human rights and that we will help protect these rights. Above all, it helps people to feel respected and retain their sense of dignity and value."

Isabel Watson, Associate Managing Director of Adult Social Care and Mental Health, Health and Community Services, said: "This independent advocacy service complements the existing service we have in place for our mental health patients and care residents. It really is fantastic to be able to offer such a valuable service to Islanders who need support with decision making or speak on their behalf when necessary."

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