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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Advocacy?

It is a service that argues for or defends another who is unable (or needs help) to do so for themselves Our service is designed to work alongside the person assisting them, where needed, so they remain happy and healthy as much as possible within their individual circumstances. We are there to maintain the rights of an individual so they continue to receive the best services available, taking any necessary actions to ensure a positive outcome. We encourage the potential for leading as independent a life as possible.


Why does my family member need advocacy?

New Zealanders with Intellectual Disabilities experience some of our countries worst health and wellbeing outcomes. They may be at greater risk of physical, emotional, and financial abuse and mistreatment. Whilst our country has great disability support services and resources available, assistance is often required to navigate through them and to ensure that all entitlements are being received and that all treatment is fair. Advocates work to make sure the people we support have all of their human rights protected and recognised, as well as have the best possible outcomes for a happy and fulfilling life.


Can you give some examples of advocacy?

In recent times the Trust’s Advocates have worked to help members in a range of situations – large and complex to small and straightforward. One Advocate helped a person approach their local council regarding wheelchair-friendly pedestrian phasing at intersections. As a direct result of this intervention the phasing was changed. Another identified that a person felt they were not being treated fairly by service provider staff, and worked with the person and the staff to come to an agreement. In another similar situation when a resolution wasn’t reached, the advocate assisted the person to move to a different house. On the graver end of the scale, advocates have been present to thwart the efforts of family members or associates seeking to take financial advantage of the people we support.


Is it value for money?

The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust offers a unique service that yields better health and wellbeing outcomes for the people we support, and peace of mind for their family and loved ones. The length of time that we work with a person and the value they get from our service may vary considerably. 


What would happen to my family member if they didn't have an advocate?

In the best case scenario your family member would be in a stable and supportive environment where they were empowered to advocate for themselves. Without being able to guarantee such a situation, it is wholly possible and likely that they would experience frustrations, discrimination and worse yet, abuse without an Advocate there to be their voice.


I can't afford advocacy. Is there any financial help or do you have any ideas to help me fund it?

The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust recognises that funding ongoing advocacy may be difficult for many families. To try and make the service more accessible the Trust allows the fee to be paid in a variety of ways. It may be established in Trust as a lump sum, paid in instalments monthly or annually, or from a Testamentary Will for support that commences after the death of parents. Please note that our fees are adjusted every three years, so the cost of the service in the future will likely be higher than it is today. 


There is financial support available to fund short term advocacy needs through the Rangatira Fund.


I think my family member only needs a few hours of advocacy. Can you provide that?

Yes! While ongoing advocacy is the ideal, we recognise that it is not always necessary or accessible for people. Sometimes there is a short term crisis that requires an Advocate alongside for a short amount of time. The Personal Advocacy and Safeguarding Adults Trust can also provide advocacy support on an hourly basis. Please visit our short term advocacy page for more information.


Who is the Advocate accountable to?

Advocates report to a Team Leader and General Manager. All of the Advocate’s reports and visit notes are reviewed by this management team, with prompt and open communication of any complex issues or concerns. As appropriate, these issues and concerns are escalated for review by the Trust Board.


What sort of people become Advocates? What training and background do they have?

Our Advocates are carefully selected for their patience, knowledge and respect for people, in addition to their robust knowledge of disability service providers and networks. Whilst we do not have any strict training or qualification requirements, generally Advocates have a background in social work, nursing, special education, health, or working with other at risk groups within the community.


Are Advocates police vetted?

All Trust employees, including Advocates, are police vetted as part of the employment process.


Don't the organisations who care for disabled people look after the interests of the people they car for?

Most service providers and other disability organisations do a great work in caring for the physical and emotional needs of their people they support. These services often have very thinly stretched resources. In many instances our members are not wholly satisfied with their residential services, and draw on the support of their Advocate to improve and change their situation.


Do changes in Government policies and funding affect PASAT?

In order to be effective in promoting and protecting the interests of its members, PASAT is currently administratively and financially independent of Government for its personal advocacy services. The service is funded the payment of fees and interest earned through investments. Being independent of external controls or priorities, PASAT is able to provide an effective advocacy service.


How far will the Trust go when monitoring the quality of care being received?

Our advocates make regular visits and usually become aware if there are any problems by observing the behaviour and general well being of a person and where appropriate, by talking with the person and the key people in the person’s life. Where any concerns arise the matter is discussed with the relevant people, at each level if need be, until a satisfactory resolution is reached. Staff meet monthly for peer support and conversations to enhance their knowledge. We also evaluate each person’s circumstances on an annual basis, assessing their   accommodation, day programmes, staff relationships, health, and in fact all aspects of their lives.


Will PASAT find accommodation and work for my fmaily member when I am no longer there?

Whilst we do not provide accommodation, day programmes or employment we can link people with organisations that may be able to provide these services. We will introduce your family member to recognised service providers and follow up on the outcome, providing additional assistance where needed.


How much help with the day to day budgeting can the Trust give - particularly where there is a problem with the handling of money?

Managing day to day finances is not a role an advocate would assist with. Their role is to arrange assistance where it is felt that a person’s interests need protecting. We would prefer, however, for alternative arrangements to be made where an agent is required to manage a person’s benefit payments. We can audit finances at regular intervals.


What role would the Trust have if my family member got married?

Our role should not change. We support many people in their married lives and are there to advocate for them and assist with any relationship issues they may have.


What contact will I, as a parent, have with the Trust?

We produce periodic newsletters and will send you a copy of our Annual Report and Accounts. You will also be visited or phoned annually by the Advocate appointed in your region, and contacted by phone by National Office staff to make sure information is current and up to date.


After my death, how will the Trust work alongside other members of my family who are interested in the welfare of my family member?

We are experienced in working alongside relatives in providing mutual support to enhance the quality of life for a person. We would maintain regular contact and co-ordinate with them when providing our advocacy service.


Can the Trust Board administer a Trust Fund for my family member after my death?

Yes, but you need to negotiate the terms of that trust fund with us during your lifetime in a Memorandum of Understanding with our Trust Board. Please refer to our Discretionary Trust page which gives more detailed information on how to make the necessary financial provisions for your family member.


Can I sponsor someone?

Absolutely! You are welcome to fund advocacy for a person you know, or to contribute to our Rangatira Fund to help those with advocacy needs and financial hardship.

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