What is a patient advocate?
According to the Professional Patient Advocacy Institute, “Patient advocates come from a broad spectrum of professional disciplines that make up today’s healthcare team…(They) have a health-related degree and possess the skills to assist patients and families in navigating the complex healthcare system. The patient advocate is viewed as a professional who can objectively assist consumers in understanding and making sense of their healthcare needs”.
You can read more in our article, “What is a professional patient advocate?” which outlines situations in which an advocate can assist.
How does a professional advocate differ from the advocacy role of a family caregiver?
A professional advocate is a support for both the patient and any involved family/caregivers. Often a family member(s) helps an ill or elderly loved one in many ways, including being their advocate over many years and situations. As that family member, there may be times when you would benefit from professional advice, help navigating the healthcare system, insurance, etc. A professional advocate boosts your effectiveness as your loved one’s advocate. This may be through advice/care consultation or one-time support in a crisis, a professional assessment or ongoing support especially if you are advocating from a distance and need a local contact.
Read more about the benefits and uses of a comprehensive care management assessment.
How do I select a professional patient advocate?
As with any professional service you hire, it is important to find out about the patient advocate’s qualifications and experience. One of the best ways to locate an advocate is via referral, such as from a trusted professional/medical provider. You can also speak to references and talk directly to the advocate (or advocacy organization) about their experience with the issues and concerns you are facing.
We offer a number of resources to help you as your loved one’s advocate. You may want to subscribe to our blog posts via email for our latest articles or check out our various eldercare downloads on topics of interest to caregivers.
We also invite you to join our conversations on Facebook!
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Patient Advocate Organization