Improving Awareness of Patient Advocacy Services

Objectives and concerns

Patients cared for within mental health wards are entitled to receive services from an independent mental health advocacy (IMHA) service. The advocacy service helps people to understand their rights, including when detained under a section of the Mental Health Act. The IMHA also support communications and referrals for all patients who wish to engage with the service and participate in decisions about their care and treatment.

This project aims to ensure that all patients are aware of advocacy services available to them whilst under the care of Oxford Health NHS Trust.


100% of patients asked on Sapphire ward to report that they know how to access advocacy services by June 2019.

About this project

Each ward performs a monthly audit as part of the CQC essential standards framework which includes a question to in-patients as to whether they are aware of the advocacy services provided. The results are centrally collated by the quality and audit team. The results indicated some disparity between wards which may suggest that some patients were not aware of the advocacy services available to them. One ward was chosen for the project however the lessons learnt will be shared across all wards.


The project is employing the Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) Improvement model for quality improvement.


The team have agreed a problem and are now exploring possible interventions.  The team have begun by collecting baseline data to measure patient awareness and project leads are engaging with the ward team, including visiting the ward environment. The advocacy service has also provided referral data. A literature search has been completed. The project team have plans to meet with the ward team to create a driver diagram and identify some tests of change.

Non-urgent advice: Further information

Local Project Leads

  • Emma Lofthouse, Quality & Audit Specialist
  • Liz Cheal, Quality & Audit Specialist
  • Gareth Bevan, Ward Manager

QI Project Support

  • Tony Perry, Improvement Lead
  • Helen Hunt, Senior Improvement Lead

Page last reviewed: 27 September, 2021