SIAA’s members AdvoCard has launched S.TR.O.N.G. (Statement of Treatment Requested, Ongoing Needs and Goals) to strengthen the power of individuals in making decisions and having those decisions respected.

AdvoCard was born in 1994 to provide independent advocacy in North East Edinburgh to people with mental health issues. Over the years, the organisation has expanded and developed, and they now work across the whole city and provide services to people with substance use and those in prison, too.

Their STRONG project aims to support people who access treatment and/or recovery by informing them of their rights around these services and helping them produce a personal statement which records their needs, requests, and views.

In their work with people with substance use, they found that often people who use addiction or recovery services felt that they had no rights and no power when seeking treatment or support. However, people who use addiction services have the same rights as anyone else; that means having a choice about treatment or whether to refuse treatment. It also means having the right to be treated with dignity and the right to be included and consulted about decisions made on their behalf.

AdvoCard understand that, ideally, when someone first presents at an addiction service, they would have support from an advocacy worker to ensure that they were able to understand their rights and to give their views. However, this is not always possible. To address this, the organisation applied for funding to run a pilot project to design a working document that could be used to inform people using addiction treatment or recovery services about their rights and choices in treatment and recovery. The STRONG document can also hold a personal statement regarding treatment and support which can then be used when the person seeks treatment.

The organisation is currently 9 months into the project, with 3 months left to go. AdvoCard has a working document that they are now piloting through addiction services in Edinburgh. The aim is that they will have a final document that can be used in much the same way as a personal statement is used for Mental Health treatment.

Find out more about AdvoCard and STRONG on their website.

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