Advocacy and Other Support Agencies
Only a minority of forensic carers had used independent advocacy at some stage, which reflects the low level of carer advocacy provision generally. Of those responding to the survey, over half were unaware of the existence of independent advocacy support for carers, and the majority (68%) of these had never been offered it. Just over a tenth of respondents had used a carers’ advocate. Some had experienced a conflict of interest between an advocate working on behalf of their relative and expectations for their own needs. One said they had found themselves in a position where they were having to inform the advocate.
Others had experienced important specific support at different times in their journey, such as family liaison services in the courts, or support akin to advocacy, or moral support whilst in court from groups like Support in Mind Scotland. Some reported receiving practical support from voluntary agencies, such as help with transport or transporting patients’ effects between units. Some had used transport services arranged by SACRO; this included a free bus service for visitors and a volunteer driver scheme taking visitors door-to-door. Other forms of support around visiting included a counsellor providing moral support and helping the carer with travel arrangements.
For those relatives putting up with violent or aggressive behaviour prior to admission to secure services, some had received support from groups like Women’s Aid, including offers for refuge or somewhere else to stay. For those relatives with family members discharged into the community, some reported a level of neighbourhood support.