Being an advocate for a family member for healthcare related issues can be one of the most challenging roles to fill as a caregiver. At times it may be difficult to find information and to communicate with healthcare professionals. Although the system is complicated and challenging to maneuver, advocating is an important role that can be learned step-by-step. Remember that, as with many aspects of caregiving, feeling capable and effective as an advocate may take time.
The following is a list of tips to help you to become a competent advocate for your loved one:
- Appreciate your role in the care team. You are an important part of the care process for your loved one.
- Communicate with your family member. Include your loved one as much as possible in conversations and decisions that affect their life. This will help you to ensure that you are advocating for their wishes, and will help them to feel that you care about what they want.
- Set realistic goals. Often it can seem like there are a hundred things to do and this can be overwhelming. Having a plan to take care of things one-by-one can make the process more manageable.
- Think ahead. Doctors and other healthcare professionals often have a limited time to speak with you. Think about which questions you need to ask ahead of time and write them down so you do not miss out on important information. Also, write down the answers to your questions so you will remember them later.
- Be persistent. Finding information you need may take a great deal of time and effort. You could find yourself transferred to multiple people over the phone and may need to call more than once to get the answers you need. Follow up, and don’t give up.
- Identify a key contact. In whatever setting your loved one is receiving care, it is important to identify an individual that you can be in regular contact with. Over time, this person will become familiar with your situation and can help with any questions or concerns you may have.
- Maintain open communication. It is very important to open and maintain relationships with your loved one’s care team. Care providers need to be aware of changes, and it will bring you peace of mind to feel informed and involved.
Darol Tuttle, Attorney at Law, P.S. services clients in Washington State to include Thurston County, Pierce County, King County and Snohomish County to include cities such as Olympia, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Federal Way, Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, Seattle, Burien, Des Moines, Renton, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Seattle, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Everett.