All About Patient Advocacy
Patient Advocate Nurse Denver
In my 30 years of working in pediatric nursing, I watched parents struggling to take care of their children while simultaneously having to care for their elderly parents. Dividing care and attention between the two is not only a time consuming and emotionally/physically exhausting balancing act, but add to that the challenge of navigating through aging and illness and that task can feel even more hopeless. That’s where a Patient Advocate can come to the rescue.
So what is a Patient Advocate Nurse?
A Patient Advocate is an individual with extensive knowledge and experience in healthcare who can guide you through appointments, decision making, medication management and hospitalizations, all while providing emotional support. A Patient Advocate helps to break down the medical lingo to make healthcare understandable and manageable. Most Patient Advocate professionals are affiliated with a professional organization called the Alliance of Professional Healthcare Advocates (APHA), which sets professional standards and provides a code of conduct along with professional certification.
Why is Patient Advocacy so Prevalent Now?
While the profession itself has been around for the last ten years, it is becoming even more relevant today as the so called “gap generation” is finding themselves as the primary caretakers of both their children and their parents. A recent AARP study revealed that 66% of children live 1-5 hours away from their aging parents. But no matter the distance, children want to be informed and involved in decision making regarding their parents’ health. Because most families agree that seniors should live out their lives at home, a need for in home services has opened up (such as grocery delivery, meal prep, house cleaning, hygiene, etc.). However, most medical appointments are outside of the home. A Patient Advocate can attend the appointment to ask questions, gather information for informed decision making, and most importantly, make sure that the patient understands their care and that the they, their medical care team, and their caregivers at home are all on the same page.
Doctor appointments can feel like a whirlwind of information overload and confusion, and often patients find themselves too overwhelmed to ask questions or for clarification. An Advocate can be there to translate the medical speak, clarify any changes in medication, and work with the doctors/patient to create a follow up plan. In situations of hospitalizations, a Patient Advocate can provide daily visits to check on general care, address any questions, and ensure a timely discharge. They also act as a communication point between patients, their families, and their doctors so that information regarding the appointment and patient care are only a phone call or email away.
Above all else, a Patient Advocate is there ensure proper medical care and to provide peace of mind to the patient and their families.