Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season are right around the corner. Smart health and patient advocates and care managers can find this season to be a golden opportunity to expand their reach in many positive ways.
The holidays are family times. Generations come together. Inevitably someone is facing a health and/or health system challenge. Aunt Joan has a new cancer diagnosis and hasn’t even considered a second opinion. Dad needs help sorting out his meds, while daughter Francine questions about whether he’s taking the right drugs at the right times, or whether the prescriptions he’s taking are causing some new symptoms. Cousin Jack is drowning in medical debt; he has no idea know how to fight a denied claim, or choose the right health insurance plan. Uncle Victor, age 78, doesn’t have a DNR or a will because he doesn’t understand their importance.
These are the times family members begin to worry – and wonder who can help out.
The answer is YOU – a friend, a neighbor, a fellow church or temple congregant. YOU can help them. They probably just don’t know that.
There are a few ways you can quite simply, and gently let them know that you are available should the need arise. Here are some ideas for getting the word out:
Begin by making a list of friends and acquaintances you have phone numbers or email addresses for. Don’t worry about whether you know they need you or not. Often families keep these sorts of challenges private.
Now, put together some sentences that address each of the following:
1. Appropriate greetings – as the holiday season arrives – Thanksgiving, New Years, plus whichever religious holidays their families celebrate. Ask how they are doing. Show empathy when you know its pertinent.
2. An announcement that you have launched a private, independent advocacy practice.
3. A brief reminder that sometimes families come together during the holidays, and may raise topics that are difficult or uncomfortable to discuss in relation to health matters, or hurdles that are caused by health problems…
4. Offer a solution, that as a health advocate, you might be able to help them out by smoothing out some of the bumps.
5. For example, (then list 2,3 or more services you might provide). Be sure to mention the peace of mind that comes from having someone who can be objective help them deal with tough decisions.
6. Mention your general financial terms with statements like “Because I’m just getting started, I charge less than you might think” or “My charges are very reasonable when you consider the peace of mind my work can bring to your family.” Don’t mention any hourly rates or specific fees. What you hope they will do is phone you back or reply to your email to ask more questions.
7. List your availability in general terms, too. “I’m available Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving” or “I can meet with you evenings” or “Check with me for availability.”
8. Make sure you end with a call to action. “Call me to discuss this further” or “I’d be happy to provide references – you can find them at my AdvoConnection listing” or “Please keep this information in the back of your mind should the need arise.”
9. Finally – important! – be sure to supply your phone number and your email address. Make them very easy to find.
Write out your points into a friendly format (probably paragraphs, not bullet points), then email or postal mail them to your candidate list. Do these separately and personally; don’t send a mass email. Health and financial matters are too personal for your potential clients to think you are lumping them together with others. In fact, if you can cite specific family members’ names, that’s a great approach.
Or, if you prefer, make phone calls and use your points as a semi-script – an even more personal approach which gives you the opportunity for a conversation.
See? Low key and win-win for your friends and for you.
Once you’re finished, consider posting an edited version of your invitation to your Facebook page, too. Your closest friends will feel important enough to have received a personal invitation, but will understand that you are reaching out to others, too.
A most wonderful Thanksgiving to you and yours.
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