Don’t Go It Alone: Contact a Nurse Advocate
Gone are the days of anyone, let alone an aging parent, placing a quick call to his/her doctor when not feeling well or needing a quick question answered. Healthcare is increasingly difficult to manage and places high demands on time and energy. Working full time, juggling doctors’ appointments, understanding clinical information, and finding resources are time consuming, and sometimes even scary situations for most of us because healthcare is unlike any other service we encounter. We are all vulnerable in today's society when we or our loved ones are thrust into our complicated healthcare system.
Evolving over the past 10 years or so is the role of the Healthcare Advocate who plays a role that was traditionally performed independently or by family and friends. Today, many people can still manage themselves, but many cannot, or do not want the added stress of doing so. This is because we have a healthcare system that is complex, confusing, and stressful and at times, dangerous. As a result, many people are turning to paid advocates for help.
With people paying more for the cost of healthcare, but spending more time navigating it, they want someone who is on their side helping them understand their choices and helping them to access the resources they need to manage their healthcare challenges.
Independent Healthcare Advocates, by profession, are often Nurses, Case Managers, Social Workers, Doctors, or even non-degree professionals with a niche expertise.
To me, Patient Advocacy is one of the most important roles I take on as a Registered Nurse. Having an advocate with you on your journey helps to ensure you or a loved one have someone to guarantee you have a voice, are listened to, are safe, and receive quality care while moving through the healthcare system.
Nurses are deeply committed to assist people to do what they would otherwise be unable to do for themselves. Nurse Advocates gather information so you and your family can make informed decisions to meet your goals. They work with healthcare team to improve communication and break down barriers because they understand how the system works. Like family and friends, Nurse Advocates have an emotional investment to ensure the best for their clients.
Healthcare Advocates provide the opportunity of having a trusted and reliable partner who understands what matters to you, and can empower you to get the care you want. They help to put healthcare back in your hands by giving you a voice. Enhancing communication bridges gaps, but it takes time. Guiding complexities through enhanced communication leads to answers, and ultimately peace of mind, which is mostly what we are all looking for. Nurse Advocates often assume the role of extended family, especially when family lives at a distance, and they become the family’s healthcare liaisons, medical mentors, and healthcare guides.
Nurse Advocates are proficient at solving problems and creating solutions while collaborating with other healthcare providers. Services depend on individuals’ needs and desires, but often include a multitude of things such as: Integrating information from multiple healthcare providers; assisting in understanding illness; finding necessary resources; identifying, coordinating, and managing resources; providing supportive services around hospitalization, diagnostic and surgical procedures; organizing options and services; navigating insurance issues; and coordinating, managing and attending doctor visits. We also assist with transitioning to other sites of care or end-of-life services, coordinating medical records, medical billing reconciliation, acute hospitalization communication support and care coordination, securing advanced care directives, and arranging and preparing for eldercare attorney consultation. Nurse Advocates also assist with medication management, reconciling medications and pharmacist consultations across all coordinates of care, navigating established electronic medical records/portals, as well as confirming and coordinating practitioner appointments and accompanying clients to provider appointments. We work with clients and families to guide, assist, and arrange for optimal living arrangements with home being the priority, and implementing services where most needed, be it in the home, assisted living center, hospital, rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility.
Maura Lessard, RN, BSN, CCM
Nurse Advocates, LLC
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