A human rights approach to advocacy for people with dementia: A review of current provision in England and Wales

Jeremy Dixon, Judy Laing, Christine Valentine

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In this article, we review current advocacy services for people with dementia in England and Wales (provided, respectively, under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Mental Health Act 1983/2007 and the Care Act 2014) through the lens of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We examine what a human rights’ approach to advocacy support would entail, and whether current frameworks in England and Wales are adequate for this approach and provide a sufficient safeguard. First, we consider how the human rights of persons with dementia have become increasingly important and the extent to which the CRPD provides an opportunity to bolster safeguards and protection. Second, we discuss cause and case advocacy, and how these advocacy models could be shaped by the CRPD to promote the rights of persons with dementia at each stage of the disease. Third, we highlight current dilemmas and challenges in the provision of advocacy support in England and Wales by focusing on case law, commissioning of services and current practice. In particular, we analyse how the different legislative schemes have given rise to some confusion about the various advocacy provisions, as well as potential for overlap and discrepancies between different regimes. We also highlight the need for further research to address important gaps in knowledge, including the scale of need, patterns of referral and attitudes to advocacy services. The article concludes by highlighting how advocacy support could be recalibrated as a universal right to promote the aims and aspirations of the CRPD, and how education is needed to address the stigma of dementia and promote the benefits of advocacy in protecting the rights of those with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-236
Number of pages16
JournalDementia: the international journal of social research and practice
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • advocacy
  • Care Act 2014
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • dementia
  • human rights
  • mental capacity
  • mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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