/ Aged Care

What is a patient advocate and how can they help?

On our blog today, Dorothy Kamaker MN RN speaks to us about the role of patient advocates in a care situation and how they can make life much easier for families when coping with changes in a person's health and medical situation.

What is a patient advocate?

For many, the time of greatest support and medical need will coincide with your time of least capacity to cope, to assess and to decide what reflects your best interests and wishes. An independent advocate can help steer you through what could otherwise be a stressful, frightening and confusing time. In collaboration with your family and health providers an advocate can provide you with a completely personalised service where you are in control. They can navigate, schedule, negotiate, mediate and where necessary, intercede on your behalf to help you achieve the best overall health result. In crisis situations she can be your professional and objective supporter, ensuring your case is handled with care, compassion and foresight. If you are a patient who feels you are being rushed into making medical decisions without fully understanding your options, a family member who wants to ensure your loved one gets the care they need or a practitioner who is worried about a potential dispute or patient-care issue a patient advocate can be your best support.

What does a patient advocate do?

They can provide support during the critical post discharge period when many patients fail to consolidate the progress made during a hospital admission. "Failed discharge" is one of the principle factors resulting in loss of independence and admission to a nursing home for aged patients. Advanced case management during these weeks can make all the difference in getting back to normal. Help around the home is essential and oversight by an expert advocate is invaluable.

Do patient advocates only help people coming out of hospital?

Not at all. They can also help with families coping with a diagnosis of dementia among other conditions. You have a choice in how you live your life with Alzheimer's or other dementia. It is possible to stay at home and live well with Alzheimer's by taking control of your health and wellness, and focusing your energy on the aspects of your life you find most meaningful. In order for your wishes and choices to prevail, you must plan early while you are at your best. Putting legal, financial and end-of-life plans in place is one of the most important steps you can take. It allows you to participate in making decisions that help family and friends know your wishes.

Patient Advocates Australia provides professional and affordable assistance to those who need it within the Aged and NSW Health Systems. If any aspect of your health or wellbeing is causing you concern, we will listen and provide you with a cost and obligation free appraisal. My goal is to fill the gaps in health care. If there is a problem then let me be part of the solution. For more information click here.