Self-Advocacy Best Practice

Why do organisations need to make self-advocacy a priority?roadsign

Funders such as the HSE must now take into account the wishes and needs of the service owner on an equal (if not a higher) level of priority, than the wishes of service provider organisations. It is increasingly evident that funding and resources will be distributed towards organisations who can demonstrate service owners have had their opportunity to say what they need and want and this is then reflected back to funders. 

Key audiences to consider in your self-advocacy strategy

The current shift in focus toward self-advocacy channels requires individuals and organisations to support service owners to build their capacity to self-advocate. Changes are required to provide space and support for service owners to consider their needs, be part of decisions in the organisation, and have the means through which their voice can be heard and acted upon. This will require thinking, time and resources. Key target groups inlcude:


Senior Management will need to make an informed decision to pursue self-advocacy as a strategic priority across the whole organisation. This may require reviewing and identifying changes to existing practices and how decisions are made. Pro self-advocacy processes can impact and change internal timescales e.g., organisations must allow time for consultation. Building self-advocacy will require training for management, self-advocates, and key workers. On an ongoing basis, increased and continued awareness and capacity building programs will be required to help build self-advocacy capacity.

Key Workers and those working directly with service owners play a core role in self-advocacy. In this regard Key workers need to be fully supported to help develop service owner’s advocacy skills. It is fundamental that key workers are recognised for their part in building and implementing self-advocacy policy. Organisations can benefit from engaging key workers to actively partner with management to develop self-advocacy structures and processes. Often, key workers may have to be made aware of their key role. Key workers should be encouraged to identify their self-advocacy training needs and work with management to develop robust training programmes. Key workers will face many situations, in support of this, ongoing training and peer supports can help sustain self-advocacy efforts. 

Service owners will require multiple supports. A core object is to build confidence, rights awareness, and an awareness of the right to advocate. Service owners need to know what self-advocacy is and what it means for them. Many will need support in identifying how to self-advocate effectively including channels of communication and technical supports available to them. Sometimes service owners will require direct support e.g., in meetings with service providers or externally with Government Departments.

Practical programme supports Programme

The DFI Self-Advocacy Programme recognises that our 120 plus members are at various levels of organisational self-advocacy development. Our programme has been developed to build capacity at all levels. Programme tool and supports include:

  • Policy updates and training
  • Best Practice knowledge hub
  • Peer Group networks
  • Individual Management Mentoring
  • Organisational Training
  • Member knowledge Hub
  • Guides, tools and resources