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Advocacy is an empowering process. Advocacy for older people is taking action to help them say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need. Volunteer advocates make a long-term commitment to loyally support the older people they work with. The volunteer advocate meets regularly with the resident, provides one to one support, develops a mutually trusting relationship with them, and listens to and represents their views and wishes at all times.
Myhomefromhome.ie is a web site providing information on nursing homes whiich aims to be of assistance to the public. This includes funding options, advice on choosing nursing homes and information on alternatives to nursing home care.
This customised programme for nursing home staff and others in the caring professions aims to encourage health workers to reconnect to the heart of their practice, to allow compassionate caring to rise above institutional rules and limitations, and to promote and encourage that quality and heart of care that serves the needs of patient and families.
The Third Age National Advocacy Programme, (TANAP) was originally launched in 2008 by the HSE as an Advocacy Programme for Older People in Residential Care in response to recommendations made by the Forum on Services for Older People. This Forum was set up following an Enquiry into revelations of abuse of older people in Leas Cross Nursing Home in North Dublin. The Enquiry revealed that morale in the nursing home was very low and that many residents felt voiceless.
In response the HSE set up a programme to train independent volunteer advocates to work in a number of nursing homes in Ireland. Volunteers were trained, and following a positive response from many private nursing homes, volunteer advocates began to work in a number throughout Ireland. All volunteer advocates have received induction and ongoing training, they are supported by an Advocacy Development Officer and have Garda clearance.
In 2010 the Programme was externally evaluated with the recommendation that its governance should be out-sourced to an independent agency. The programme was handed over to Third Age in September 2011, and the programme has adopted as its motto ‘An ear to listen, a voice to speak.
Within TANAP the volunteer advocate meets regularly with the resident and develops a mutually trusting relationship. The volunteer listens to and represents the resident’s views, providing one to one support. and helping the older person express their wishes, access their entitlements, and assert their rights The service is also accessible by the family of an older person, friends, carers or a relevant professional.
TANAP today represents a partnership between Third Age, the HSE and Nursing Homes Ireland. At present 120 volunteers are working in 90 nursing homes in Ireland. 50 more volunteer advocates are currently being trained and a new training programme will begin in autumn 2012.