Families Need You: A Thanksgiving Opportunity

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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:

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All We Really Need to Know About Being Good Advocates We Learned in Kindergarten

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As children across the US and Canada start kindergarten this time of the year, I’m reminded of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a classic, published more than 30 years ago.

I’ve actually written about advocates and the kindergarten principles before, years ago, as applied to some real negativity we were experiencing as a profession then. But today’s piece is updated, much more positive, and contains some further advice not shared then.

So much of this kindergarten wisdom is appropriate to our successful running of an independent advocacy or care management practice – no matter whether it’s back-to-school time or not.

So, with a nod to author Fulghum, let’s review.

1. Be Respectful and Expect to Be Respected in Return

This is 360o advice: be respectful of others, and expect them to return the same. Now, you might respond “Yeah… Duh! Of course!” but I’m constantly amazed at the stories I hear about disrespect in relation to advocacy.  I’ve heard about:

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How Does a Patient Choose the Best Advocate to Hire?

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I’ve been working on updating the AdvoConnection Directory website because it was time, because search engines look favorably upon updates. And because my not-frequent-enough review of the site’s analytics produced a big surprise!

A surprise I’ll share with you here today.

To be clear – no changes were made to the actual search and profile areas – those all belong to our listed advocates who make those changes themselves.

Instead, I edited and updated the support pages – everything from the homepage to the About Us page to the “how to choose and interview an advocate” page.

For some background:  I monitor and track the advocate listing pages diligently (and encourage our listed members to monitor their own – we provide them with stats each month.)  I know people are finding our advocates in the Directory in HUGE numbers (examples: 16,000+ in January and 15,500+ in February, a shorter month, of course).

However – true confessions here – as in “do as I say, and not as I do” – I rarely look at the analytics on the basic site pages.Just not something I make time for… although as I learned this week – I should!  Because I was actually very surprised by what I learned.

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Johnny Carson, Game Shows, and a Lesson about Trust

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Back in the 1950s, into the 1960s, a game show called Who Do You Trust? aired where couples were asked questions, and one had to “trust” the other to answer it (or not!). If you remember the show (some of us do) you may also remember that Edgar Bergen (yes, Candace Bergen’s father) was the MC for the show.

However, what you may not remember is that a year or two into the show, Bergen was replaced by Johnny Carson – who often “helped” the couples get the right answers. He helped them – well – TRUST.

The irony of this particular game show, one with TRUST in the title, is that it aired during the years of the game show scandals – yes – scandals! The game show scandals were all about cheating, and giving answers to pre-determined winners, and money changing hands in ways it shouldn’t.

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When Granny Doesn’t Want to Cross the Street

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You have probably heard that old joke about a Boy Scout who was determined to help a little old lady cross the street. After a number of attempts and iterations, he finally picked her up and carried her to the other side of the street, set her down on the sidewalk, and left, having completed his good deed.

But the joke was really on him – because the lady had no interest in getting to the other side. She had wanted to stay right where she was.

We frequently receive requests to take Granny across the street. They come in the form of Unmet Needs requests from well-meaning friends and family who want an advocate to help someone they care about.

Too many of those patients are just like the little old lady, and too many advocates are trying to play the role of the Boy Scout.

How?

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