Sunday, September 16, 2007

How To Be A Patient Advocate

Wouldn't it be nice to know things before
we needed to act? Instead of bumbling through
by trial and error?

One of the things I found out during the hospital
stays my mother experienced is this:

You have to become an ADVOCATE.

It is a fine line you'll be walking. For one,
you don't want to make a nuisance of yourself.
But, you don't want to be a doormat, either.

*****Tips For Being An Advocate*****

1. Get in their faces. Nicely put it means:
Introduce yourself to everyone at the nurse's
station. It goes a long way if you greet the
staff by their name. Be friendly. Most of them
are doing their best!

2. Offering help is greatly appreciated by the
staff. It also makes your parent feel so much
better to have you with them, doing for them.

You can help with feeding, getting them out of
bed to move around if they are able. Helping
with toilet rituals, manicures, pedicures, massages.
The little things that mean a lot to their comfort
and emotional well-being.

3. Be educated on your parent's condition so you
can talk to the medical team without appearing
like a total idiot. This way you can discuss treatment
options and be in on decisions. You'll be treated
with respect and so will your parent.

4. Never be put off if you want to talk to the
doctor. If you can't be there when they make
their rounds, insist on an appointment.

5. Trust your instincts!!! You know your parent
better than strangers in a hospital. If the patient
is being pushed too soon to do something you
know is not in their best interests, speak up.

You know how their color is when they are well.
You know what they can do when they are well.
You can gauge things. The staff can only "go by
the book".

6. Be present. If you or a sibling can't be there,
be sure to phone and keep contact. Designate
one sibling as the "point guard". The staff can't
be answering calls from the whole family. You'll
just undo everything you're trying to do right!

If you're lucky enough to afford it, consider hiring
a private duty nurse or aide to take your place if
it's impossible for you to be there.

Nobody wants to be admitted to a hospital. But,
it's bound to happen at some point for a variety
of reasons. Be prepared.

This is a case of "the squeaky wheel getting greased."

Stay strong,