As caregivers, we provide a lot of support and we are often present for appointments or involved in conversations with doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care providers.
During these interactions, you can be a great support and advocate for the person you are caring for. As a caregiver and patient advocate you can do this in different ways, such as helping to interpret health care information, providing information to the medical team and working with the person you are caring for to learn new information or procedures.
It can be difficult at times to know when you should step up and become a caregiver.
It can be difficult at times to know when you should step up and become a caregiver advocate on behalf of the person in your care, and if you may be overstepping the boundaries.
In terms of working towards not infringing on the independence of the person you are helping, consider asking them a few questions to get a better understanding of what kind of assistance or family caregiver advocacy they may want from you.
Questions to ask
Before taking on the role as advocate, ask the person in your care if they are:
- Comfortable speaking with their (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, etc.)?
- Able to get the information that they wanted or need, and is it clear or do they have questions?
- Wanting you to help by speaking on their behalf?
Offering your caregiver support and encouragement is commendable, but even if the person you are caring for would like your assistance, be sure to tread lightly.
Advocate but keep them involved
The person receiving care has the right to have a full understanding of their condition and options available to them in order to make the best choices regarding their care.
But, you must ensure they continue to feel involved and in control. When a health care provider asks a question, pause and allow the person you are caring for to answer first before allowing you (the caregiver) to step in.
To ensure communication and understanding is really happening between all of the parties involved, it can be helpful to summarize the key points of the discussion. This way you know that you, the person you're caring for, the family, and the medical professionals are all on the same page.
Summarizing the key points also gives an opportunity for any party to provide more information, or make a correction if something was misinterpreted.