Chances are you or your loved ones will one day need a health care advocate. For many patients, the benefits of having an advocate are priceless because this person can help you understand your options and provide peace of mind while you recover.
The intricacy of the health care system may encourage some people to hire a professional. Sometimes called a patient advocate, this person is often a nurse, geriatric care manager or other health care professional who can help you in dealing with clinicians, understanding your condition and treatment options, and even helping with health insurance claims and issues.
Where to look for a professional health care advocate
Enlisting a doctor or nurse to assist you at home or in the hospital can be costly, but there are ways to reduce the cost. You can hire someone from a home health aide organization who works by the hour. Some health insurance plans cover these services so you may want to check yours first with your agent or employer. They may also be able to provide a recommendation.
Your local hospital staff may also be able to recommend a professional for hire. If you can’t get an advocate to accompany you for an important medical appointment, you can often find a nurse or doctor employed in the hospital to fill in this role.
Some people advertise the position in job vacancy boards. If you couldn’t find a suitable one through personal recommendation, this is the way to go.
What you should ask when hiring a professional advocate
Before committing to a professional advocate, you may want to ask the following:
- A summary of their service and their fee
- If they have a liability insurance
- References from previous clients and a resume
- Their work schedule and availability
- Any personal beliefs or limitations that may affect your care plan
As your condition changes, it’s important for you to provide your medical record and discuss what’s important for you so they can take the necessary course of action according to your wish.
Preparation for when you can no longer make your own decisions
The typical Advance Directive form may not be sufficient when life and death situations arise. You can include in your letter what a good day look like to you and give your advocate the permission to forego further treatment if that good day is unlikely to arrive again. Otherwise, the consequences can be steep. You can finish with a statement that they will have your forgiveness and gratitude for doing this.