First, a bit of background…
When I launched Healthassist in November 2004, there were very few private practices dedicated to the delivery of private “Health Care Advocacy / Advisory” services (my terminology for the work we do).
I had the great fortune of some national press, some of which led me to a fellow advisor in California. She founded her practice a bit after ours and was starting a national association. Her goal was simple: To bring advocates together and to educate the public regarding our new profession.
I became a founding member of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy and things took off quickly. I presented at the first conference (and all subsequent conferences) and served for five years as Treasurer on the Board of Directors. Along the way, we developed Standards & Best Practices as well as a Code of Ethics to benefit and protect consumers.
Fifteen years later, I remain a member of NAHAC’s advisory board. It’s been a wonderful experience and I value the relationships I’ve developed with fellow advisors.
Here then, are some of the best health care resources I find myself recommending again and again to clients, friends and loved ones.
Resources for Health Care Advocacy
National Association of Healthcare Advocacy
“My dad lives in Chicago, and I live in LA. He was recently hospitalized and has now been in and out of the hospital and rehab three times. My brother is there but is not familiar with the healthcare system and it seems no one is communicating. What can I do? Can you help?”
Sadly, this is a common scenario. When we receive a call like this about someone in New England, our team goes into overdrive, acting quickly to assess the situation, introduce ourselves to the relevant healthcare partners and begin to put an action plan in place. With complicated situations, in particular, “boots on the ground” matter. An advocate who can go to the hospital, rehab centers and physician appointments is required.
When we aren’t able to help, I recommend visiting the NAHAC web site and conducting a zip code search for local professionals. When possible, and because I know so many of my fellow advocates across the country, I make a direct, virtual introduction to a local resource.
Massachusetts Resources for Health Care Advocacy
Sometimes, fellow advocates are better positioned to serve a client’s needs. In those cases, I refer callers to the web site of the first regional group of NAHAC, one that I helped to found, known as Massachusetts Healthcare Advocates (MAHCA). We now have 18 members.
AdvoConnection is another national directory web site. In addition, it provides a wealth of information and tools for consumers, to help them make smart, informed decisions in choosing a professional advocate.
Patient Advocate Certification Board
A recent milestone within the profession of Health Care Advocacy was the development of certification to “credential” those who work in the field (I’m proud to have been awarded PACB certification this year).
The certification process is rigorous and knowing that your advocate has received this distinction gives you confidence in their level of competence and professionalism.
Resources for Transition to a New Living Environment
“My mom has been considering moving to a retirement community in her area and we’ve heard about many different models and levels of care. Can you help us find the best place for her?”
When I receive these calls, I first explore what is contributing to the decision to make a change. If it is an unstable health-related issue, I suggest first achieving medical stability before a move occurs. Otherwise, I refer these callers to one of my Aging Life Care Professional colleagues.
These professionals, previously known as Geriatric Care Mangers, are regionally based, know their local communities and resources, and are best suited to conduct an assessment on the environmental, safety and psychosocial needs of an older adult. They are fabulous at matching the older adult’s needs to the most appropriate living environment, taking into consideration financial constraints.
The Aging Life Care Association includes a zip code search capability for finding local professionals. Many are trained as Social Workers, while others are trained nurses or other Allied Health Professionals.
Resources for Legal Issues
“My parents don’t have their affairs in order, and I’m concerned. What can I suggest?”
In these circumstances, I ask if the caller is familiar with attorneys certified as Elder Law Attorneys. It’s a specialty that most people are not aware of, so I describe The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), the national organization certifying practitioners of elder and special needs law.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is another, similar resource.
Both resources allow national searches on their sites.
As much as I would like to assist everyone who calls, it’s not always possible.
I have great confidence in the resources noted above and I’m thrilled to be able to share them with you to help keep you and your loved ones safe and well cared for.
Medication List Template — Follow-up from May newsletter
In last month’s newsletter , we recommended a “project management” approach to managing the healthcare of yourself or a loved one. We also shared a template titled Medical Conditions, Surgeries, Hospitalizations.
We recommend using a similar template for tracking medications. You can see and use it here.
The Medication List has multiple tabs to include the following:
- Daily Medications
- Herbal Medications and Nutritional Supplements
- PRN/Occasional or As Needed Medications
- Previously Taken Medications