Nothing about you / without you
The right to have your voice heard and to participate in making decisions which affect you is a fundamental principle in a democratic society. It is about independence and interdependence. It is a principle simply stated as “Nothing about you /without you”.
Many people face challenges to their independence due to physical or mental illness, intellectual, physical or sensory disability, lack of family and community supports or an inability to access public services that meet their needs. Some people communicate differently and with difficulty and some people slowly lose their ability to make and communicate decisions as a condition, such as dementia, develops over time. Some are abused and exploited because of their vulnerability.
In circumstances where people may be vulnerable, or have to depend on others, there is a need to ensure that their rights, freedoms and dignity are promoted and protected. Through support and advocacy the will and preference of a person can be heard and acted on; independently of family, service provider or systems interests.
Influenced by the scandals of Leas Cross in 2005 and Arás Attracta in 2014, Sage was established in September 2014 with funding from the HSE and The Atlantic Philanthropies and with the support and governance of Third Age.
- Advocating for adequate Home Care Packages and for a comprehensive and equitable system of home care support and oversight of home care providers.
- Challenging unnecessary restrictions on people’s liberties and the use of ‘convenience medication’.
- Promoting self-advocacy and professional development through workshops on capacity and decision making, enduring power of attorney and advance healthcare directives.
- Supporting people to return home from hospital or care centre.
- Assisting people to maintain control of their income, benefits or property.
- Supporting family members in organising care for people with advancing dementia.
- Advocating with and for people with intellectual disabilities who are trying to develop a life with meaningful activities after they leave a congregated setting.
- Observing or facilitating meetings of residents, family members or staff in nursing homes.
- Promoting awareness of Sage’s services in communities, General Practices, day centres, nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and hostels.
To collaborate where possible. To challenge where necessary.
Governance & Accountability
Sage was established in June 2014 by the HSE and The Atlantic Philanthropies under the governance of Third Age which has a strategy of serving as a platform for the development of initiatives, projects and programmes. Funding from Atlantic ends in November 2017 and a new governance structure, Sage Advocacy clg, is being put in place.
Sage Advocacy clg is governed by a constitution and a Board which is chaired by solicitor and former Law Reform Commissioner, Patricia Rickard-Clarke. A series of Board sub-committees oversees the work of the service. A process of registering with the Charities Regulatory Authority is underway.
Sage is accountable to its main funder, the HSE, through a Service Level Agreement which is negotiated annually. It restricts its fund-raising efforts to public funding applications and private philanthropic sources. It does not use a company credit card. The salary range within Sage is €45,000 – €65,000 and no bonuses are paid.
Sage has a core of paid staff who are supported by trained volunteers. Our key task is to develop regional teams of people capable of tackling everything from the most simple support tasks to the most complex advocacy challenges, regardless of the setting. All who work with Sage, whether voluntary or paid, are known as Sage Representatives. This is because they represent a service which is working to quality standards and they do not want their paid / unpaid status to be the basis on which their work should be judged.
Independent Complaints Panel
Sage is a support and advocacy service for vulnerable adults and older people. For us to do the job that is expected of us we need to be independent of family, provider and systems interests. While our approach is to collaborate, where possible, we do also need to challenge, where necessary. We may also, from time to time, get our approach wrong simply because we are often last rather than first responders and situations are often quite complex by the time we are asked to become involved. As part of our Policies and Operational Guidelines Sage has a Complaints Policy. Where a complaint cannot appropriately be handled internally an Independent Complaints Panel has been established.
Key Roles Include
People who promote awareness of Sage and its services at local level, who provide general support to Sage clients to enable them make their voice heard and who refer on to an advocate where necessary.
People who are free from any conflict of interest who act as the voice for a person who may be vulnerable regarding a single issue or a range of related issues. By providing information to the person, ensuring that they understand the decisions they must make and helping them to express their will and preferences, the independent advocate works to keep the person at the centre of the decision-making process.
People with legal, financial, housing, mediation and other areas of specialist expertise who provide support to staff and volunteers regarding complex issues.
Homes, Group Homes, Congregated Settings, Day Centres, Workshops, Respite Facilities, Nursing Homes, Hospitals, Hostels and Hospices. Wherever people who may be vulnerable live, visit, work or have to stay, Sage will engage.