Helping Sylvia

What was the person’s situation before working with Advocacy Focus?

Sylvia is 21 years old and has autism and learning disabilities, she is also non-verbal. Sylvia was living in a supported living setting with other tenants, one of which sexually assaulted her. This assault was witnessed by the staff who walked into the shared lounge as she tried to get away from the perpetrator.

The staff raised a safeguarding alert and put some initial safety measures in place, which included always supervising the tenants when in the same living area, and the introduction of a wake night shift.

What did you do to help the person?

Despite the agreed safeguarding recommendation being that the perpetrator was moved, this took some time to happen. The advocate argued that services were not responding appropriately to what had happened and that staff were being discriminatory of Sylvia’s disabilities by not considering what she may say if she was able to communicate her feelings of remaining in the flat with the perpetrator.

The advocate argued that in circumstances where Sylvia could have accessed support, Sylvia would have had opportunity to explore how she felt about seeing the perpetrator daily and her options would have been discussed with her. As time went on, it appeared there was no action taking place in a timely manner despite the agreed safeguarding outcome.

The advocate complained on behalf of Sylvia and pointed out that Sylvia’s ability to express emotional responses outwardly was reported as being extremely limited – and therefore it might be that she is suffering further trauma by having to see her perpetrator daily (even if not left alone with them).

Due to the lack of adequate safeguards, the advocate challenged the local authority using Care Act legislation

There will be times when an advocate will have concerns about how the local authority has acted or what decision has been made or what outcome is proposed. The advocate must write a report outlining their concerns for the local authority. The local authority should convene a meeting with the advocate to consider the concerns and provide a written response to the advocate following the meeting.

Where the individual does not have capacity, or is not otherwise able, to challenge a decision, the advocate must challenge any decision where they believe the decision is inconsistent with the local authority’s duty to promote the individual’s wellbeing.’

What was the outcome?

The protective measures were not implemented in timely manner and Sylvia was made to continue living with the perpetrator for some time as the Advocate continued to challenge the local authority. Finally, the complaint was listened to, and action was taken to prioritise finding another place for the perpetrator to move to, which was not only for the safety and in the best interests of Sylvia but also the other tenants.

How do you think this impacted on the person?

This case is an example of how people with disabilities can sometimes be dismissed in social care processes. Sylvia was left in a potentially traumatic, if not unsafe, situation without an appropriate remedy (the perpetrator being moved). Without advocacy her rights may have been disregarded, leaving Sylvia with no one to be there to fight her corner.

Why do you think advocacy support was so effective?

Sylvia’s rights to be protected from inhumane or degrading treatment and to be free from discrimination were upheld, and so was the safeguarding recommendation of moving the perpetrator out.

Advocacy support also ensured that this discriminatory and potentially dangerous lack of action was raised and reported appropriately, to prevent it from reoccurring.

Share This Page

Other News

Back to Top