OPAAL is a charity funded to promote and develop independent advocacy services for new and existing advocacy service providers.

OPAAL is a national infrastructure organisation and the charity’s aims are to establish standards and quality frameworks which can be adopted by new and existing service providers to deliver improved independent advocacy for all older people, particularly those most vulnerable

OPAAL does not provide advocacy services to those requesting assistance but is endeavouring to influence the provision of independent advocacy for older people.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy supports and enables people who have difficulty representing their interests, to exercise their rights, express their views, explore and make informed choices.

OPAAL’s aims are:

  • To provide the strategic lead on advocacy with older people
  • To ensure that older people have access to advocacy
  • To support the development of new national advocacy projects to meet the needs of older people
  • To improve standards of advocacy practice to older people

What OPAAL wants to achieve – our statement of intent

We believe that there are specific circumstances where all individuals must have a right to the support of an independent advocate to ensure that their own interests and preferences are acknowledged and addressed.

Such advocacy services must be defined in terms of their scope and purpose and be based upon appropriately trained and supported personnel, whether voluntary or paid.

As an essential first step, these advocacy services must be available to all older people who are:

  • At the point of discharge from hospital
  • Directly affected by a change in the management or running of their care service
  • At the point of accessing continuing care and community care services
  • At the point of being assessed for continuing care and community care services
  • At all reviews affecting care services in hospital and the community

A series of clauses in legislation and the accompanying guidance notes provide a framework for advocacy provision, but this is limited. We call upon Government to set out a clearer entitlement to advocacy and provide the appropriate resources to ensure that these services are made available and they are free of charge to the individual.