Inpatient Peer Advocacy

We deliver peer led, non statutory inpatient Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) ward drop ins at Woodlands, Wedgwood House and Foxhall House.

About our peer advocacy

Our peer advocacy is accessible and free to anyone who is an inpatient on a mental health acute ward at Woodlands (Ipswich Hospital) Wedgwood House (West Suffolk Hospital) and Foxhall House (Ipswich).

We visit the acute wards each week for a ‘drop in’ visit where you can speak to us and we visit Foxhall House once a month. You can also text or call us or complete our online contact form.

Anyone can speak to our Peer Advocate. There is no eligibility criteria, no formal referral, and no need for staff to be involved. Our peer advocates have their own lived experience of mental health and use their skills, knowledge, and experiences to support you.

Why peer advocacy matters

SUF advocates are called peer advocates because we have lived experience of mental ill health. This means we can better understand how you might feel.

We understand that being admitted into a mental health hospital can be a very difficult, lonely, and distressing experience. It can make you feel powerless.

Speaking up about what you want or need to help your recovery can be challenging if the views of your treatment team, family or friends are different to your own.  We are here to help you because your voice matters

Working together to make your voice heard

Although you are in hospital, you still have the right to be involved in decisions about your assessment, care plan, treatment, discharge plans and recovery. You may want help to understand your rights and your options in the mental health system.

Our peer advocates will help you to do this by careful listening, explaining your rights and options. They will support you to ask questions and find out information for you. They will support you to be confident to self-advocate, to speak up and to have your voice heard.

SUF is here for your recovery journey

Suffolk User Forum is a user led mental health charity. Our staff have lived experience of mental ill health, so better understand your concerns, and worries. Our peer advocates are by your side when you are an inpatient and our SUF team is also here for when you leave hospital.

You can join SUF as a member and stay connected with us. We also report on service users experiences of services. You can tell us your story and contribute to our feedback report called Making Our Voice Count.

It was reassuring to know I could talk to the peer advocate from SUF, or just ask questions whenever they came for their weekly ward ‘drop in’ visits

Service user

Examples of the range of issues the SUF Informal Mental Health Advocate can support people with.

Your legal rights – Under current Advocacy arrangements the SUF Advocate is the first point of contact if you are not sure about the basis for your admission and want to know more about your legal rights.

You might want to know more about your legal rights as a Voluntary Patient also sometimes called being an Informal Patient,

Your rights a Detained Patient (where you have been placed on a Section of the Mental Health Act, and are legal required to stay in hospital);

Information you might need about your care and treatment.

This might include:

  1. Care Plans – Supporting you to know information about your care plan. This can include finding out if you have a care plan. Making sure that staff have talked to you about your care plan and that it includes your needs and wishes. Sometimes you might want changes made to your care plan and may need support to make this happen.
  2. Information and support for you to get permission, called authorisation, to leave the ward. You might want support to find out information about making a request for authorised leave, or need information about whether your leave has been authorised and granted. You should receive a copy of your authorised leave form and may need support to make sure you have this.
  3. Complaints – Supporting you to raise concerns or to make complaints. We can support you to raise concerns, ask questions on your behalf and where you would like to make a formal complaint, we can help make a referral to NHS Complaints.
  4. Supporting you with care and treatment concerns. Sometimes you might not have the information your need or may be concerned that you have not received results from tests, or have other worries. You can speak to us about these and we can help you to get the information you need.
  5. One to one time – Everyone who is an inpatient should have designed one to one time with their named nurse. This should be part of your care and treatment plan. You may be uncertain about this and may need information about who is your named nurse.
  6. Feeling Safe. Sometimes there may be things happening on the ward that makes you feel unsafe or worried. You may be concerned for your safety, the safety of other inpatients or staff. You should always feel safe on the wards and if anything is happening that is causing you concern please do talk to us. Your treatment and care should be compassionate and kind. Sometimes people tell us something that is of serious concern. Although our conversations are confidential, if we were very concerned about the safety of you or other people on the ward, we would explain this to you and talk through what actions we might need to take such as making a safeguarding referral.
  7. Equalities and Discrimination – You should feel that you are treated fairly and equally. The Equality Act protects certain groups of people from unfair treatment and discrimination. Discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly because of a certain characteristic. The Equality Act protects you from discrimination because of your: age, race, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership, or disability. If you feel you have been discriminated against your may not feel able to talk to staff. You can talk through your experience and concerns with our advocate.
  8. Medication, test results and appointments – We can support you to have the information you need about your medication, side effects or other medication/treatment options. You may want to know more about other appointments arranged for you, or treatment for your physical healthcare needs or longer term physical health conditions.
  9. Signposting for other support – You might want information about support for you once you return home, to help with planning your discharge, so that you have connection, can know more about support groups or recovery groups. You might want to be involved in art groups, conservation, signing groups or gardening groups. You may want to know more about getting more exercise, or joining a walking groups. There is a lot of support in our communities, and we can help you to know more about this.
  10. Relationships with your nurse, psychiatrist or other professionals – Sometimes it can feel difficult to say what you want or need especially if your treatment team or family have different views to your own. Sometimes you may feel that your views are not being heard or taken into account, or you may not feel confident to say what you want. We can support you to do this, by talking through your options and choices.
  11. Referral on to other Total Voice Suffolk Partners – you may want support to appeal your detention and we can support you to know more about your rights and how to appeal. You might qualify for statutory advocacy for Independent Mental Health Advocacy (IMHA) or Independent Mental Health Capacity Act Advocacy (IMCA).

I needed someone by my side, who really knew and understood how I felt. The SUF peer advocate understood me and I knew I could trust them

service user

Our Advocacy Commitments

  1. We are independent and separate from the NHS, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and other organisations.
  2. We treat all people fairly and with respect. We challenge discrimination.
  3. We listen and ask you what you want to happen. We give you information so you can make your own choices and decisions.
  4. We will be clear and honest about what we can or cannot do for you.
  5. We will keep information about you private and secure. If we need to share information, to keep you or someone else safe, we will always try to talk to you first. Our Privacy Policy can be read on our website.
  6. Our peer advocates are trained and supported in their role.
  7. We are accountable to you, to our trustee board and to our funders.
  8. We provide non-statutory (informal) advocacy but can refer you to statutory advocacy services provided by Total Voice Suffolk.
  9. We welcome your feedback – let us know if you were happy with our service or if there is something we could improve on. A copy of our Compliments & Complaints procedure can be read on our website

To find out more about Total Voice Suffolk and the full range of Advocacy Services please download the Total Voice Suffolk Leaflets Professionals Booklet: TVS BOOKLET RH June 2019

Easy Read:  Easy read – Independent Mental Health Advocacy 2019 Suffolk (003)

You can also visit the Total Voice Suffolk website here