A Rose by Any Other Name Might Ruin a Client Relationship

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Words matter. Descriptions matter. Names matter.

And we, as advocates, need to pay attention to words, descriptions, and names – and take steps to use them correctly, and as desired. The problem is – sometimes we don’t know when we’re violating that axiom.

I was reminded of this a few times recently, not the least of which caused my husband some consternation.

He and I have different last names. We were older when we married, and because I was already professionally known by my maiden name (Torrey), I didn’t want to change my name. Before we married, we discussed my wish to keep my maiden name, and he was surprised I would consider doing anything but keep it! So that was that.

However, in these ensuing 10+ years, my maiden name has caused him some pause and opened his eyes. Last week, for the umpteenth time, he was called “Mr. Torrey”, and later that day when our postal mail arrived, and there were two pieces of junk mail addressed to “Mr. Warren Torrey”… Well – let’s just say that he didn’t look favorably upon any of the guilty parties. It’s not HIS name, and he takes umbrage to someone assuming it is.

Women, especially, get that.

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An Anniversary, Meltdowns, Blessings, and Fuel for Advocates

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Please indulge me today. I’m going to share a very personal experience I rarely think about anymore, in hopes it will propel some good advocacy.

Sometimes months go by when I barely give it any thought. Other times, like lately, it seems like everywhere I turn, I just can’t escape it. So here you go:

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Advocates Are Afraid to Do This – Until They Love to Do It

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Earlier this year we hosted one of our APHA Workshop weekends*, with about 30 individuals who are somewhere in the process of growing an advocacy practice.

The APHA Workshops were originally designed to support the BUSINESS of advocacy only. The idea was that most advocates have abundant skills and abilities to advocate – they’ve advocated for themselves and loved ones, and sometimes non-family patients for years. What they didn’t know was how to successfully start and run a sustainable business / practice to allow them to do their advocacy work.  For five years, we hosted those original workshops all over the country, and student-advocates provided feedback indicating they were worthwhile.

Until… about a year ago it became clear that there was one major piece in the teaching of the budding profession of advocacy that was missing, a piece that no one had really named yet. Those of us who are leaders in the profession could describe it, but we had trouble honing in on a concise description, or definition, or better yet, a single word that would allow us to communicate about it.

This became even clearer at this year’s first workshop, mentioned above, where we added a component to address that missing piece. Some attendees, those new to advocacy, struggled to solve the real life patient / caregiver problems we posed. Observing some of the struggle helped me figure it out….

So today I’m going to name it, describe it, and then ask YOU to provide examples.

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Are You Too Old? Take this survey.

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It happened again last week. A gentleman called me to discuss becoming a advocate. He has great experience and could be very helpful to patient-clients because he is (mostly) retired from a career in human resources where he assisted employees with their journeys through the healthcare system. He seems so very well prepared to jump in as an independent, professional, health advocate or care manager.

Yet – he said he was still hesitating because (and it took me some time to pull this one out of him) – he thinks he may be too old.

Too old? I asked him, “How old is too old?”

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Part IV: The Dirty Dozen Skills, Abilities, and Attributes of Successful Health and Patient Advocates and Care Managers

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And, finally, the fourth and last in our series of skills, abilities and attributes that all successful advocates and care managers must.

We’re wrapping up with 3 additional concepts that are important to the success all private advocacy and care management practices.  Yes – I know the total will be 16 (and we promised only a dirty dozen!) – see Part I about my inability to count 🙂 )

Which of these describe you and your abilities?  Which of them do not?  Where do you go from here?

Do your own assessment! 

 

14.  Never forget  your Allegiance. Allegiance is the foundation of a private, independent advocate’s or care manager’s work; that is – because the patient or caregiver (or someone else whose sole allegiance is to the patient) hires you, your entire focus is on what’s best for him or her.

That is the one major distinction between private, independent professionals and those who work for an organization that profits from the healthcare system. Hospital advocates, insurance advocates – their allegiance is to the companies and systems they work for. While their hearts may be in the right place, and patients may THINK they are being helped, these system-paid advocates are too often, even frustrating to them, unable to offer the best help.

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