Patient Advocacy is a practical, proactive approach to senior living that reduces the risk of hospitalizations, nursing home admissions and healthcare costs. It is the professional assessment, coordination, management and supervision of healthcare and quality-of-life services.
Whether staying in their home or moving into assisted living, older adults and those with special needs require help. It is always advisable to have someone watching and keeping track of caregivers, appointments, household needs and much more.
My goal as a patient advocate is to provide patients and their caregivers the support and education they need to make decisions about their healthcare. One of the main problems I have seen is the confusion that happens when multiple caregivers and/or providers are used. As a patient advocate I stand with the patient (the head of their team) and collect and disseminate all the information that is needed for everyone involved in the patient’s care.
As a Patient Advocate, I ensure that the patient’s wishes and wants are upheld and that their health and safety needs are met. I am committed to helping my clients attain their maximum functional potential.
A relationship with a Patient Advocate can allow the children of the elderly person to maintain their parent/child relationship and for the spouse to remain a spouse, while someone else manages the situation. When a child or spouse is providing the care to the patient, the quality time they have to be there for their loved one is limited. The Patient Advocate can handle the difficult issues, address the immediate problem, and remain connected once the crisis passes, allowing those around the patient to maintain their primary relationship.
When children live out of town, it is imperative to have someone checking on their parent. This is not a process that can be managed long-distance. Even as in-touch as we are with technology, it is always good to work with a Patient Advocate to have an independent assessment of the situation.
Here is a list of some of the many and varied services I offer as a Patient Advocate and Care Manager.
- Nursing home and hospital advocacy – It is best to have someone who knows the system watching over the patient, helping them and their family make decisions. It is good to have a patient advocate that can be there daily to check on progress and procedures.
- Coordination of in-home help – When it becomes necessary to have help in the home, a patient advocate can coordinate caregivers and watch closely for signs of abuse or neglect.
- Daily in person or by telephone assurance visits – Whether an elder is at home, in the hospital or skilled nursing or in assisted living, having a visit from someone that knows them and has their best interest at heart will help alleviate stress and promote healing.
- Medication management – As we age, medications and supplements need to be monitored to ensure that health care professionals are aware of another providers care. Sometimes one doctor will prescribe a medication and another doctor will prescribe something that conflicts with it. Having documentation of all medications and supplements provided to all health care professionals can be a life saver.
- Nutrition and dietary guidance – Having someone monitor nutrition and diet can ensure that dietary needs are being met. One of the concerns of aging is appetites decrease and sometimes fluid consumption lessons at the same time. A watchful patient advocate can keep an eye on food and fluid consumption and help plan healthy meals.
- Home safety evaluations – Having someone keep a watchful eye for hazards in their living space will help reduce some of the risks associated with elder living.
- Help with healthcare bill auditing, review and payment – A patient advocate will keep track of healthcare bills, insurance billing and patient co pays to confirm accurate billing and timely payment of any co-payments while handling any discrepancies when necessary.
I had a client in a long term nursing facility. She had dementia and was non- ambulatory (she needed help getting in and out of bed and into a wheel chair). When I took over as her Patient Advocate, I started asking why she was never gotten out of bed. Even for her showers, she was just given a bed bath. I was told it was too hard to get her up.
I requested a care meeting and was able to have the doctor order that she at least have all of her meals sitting up in her chair and in the dining room as much as possible. As this happened, my client started eating 100% of her meals (as opposed to about 50% when she was eating in bed). She started interacting with the other residents and her quality of life was improved. She started participating in activities. Even though she usually did not remember and mostly could not actually do the activity, she was interacting with others and not in isolation in her room, in her bed. I do believe that her quality of life improved tremendously.
What People Are Saying
The day I hired Sheila to be my Care Manager was the day my life got so much easier. Before Sheila was helping I was never sure if I was getting all the information to make health decisions. With Sheila at my doctor appointments and hospital stay I knew that she was considering everything and put it in terms I understood so I felt much better about the decisions I had to make.