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It’s vital that your healthcare advocate(s) understand the quality of life that is important to you. If there is a choice of whom you may want to use as your advocate, whether it’s family, a friend or a professional, the following are some tips you may want to think about and questions to ask. Remember that trust is critical in making your selection. It will be important for you to develop a relationship with your chosen advocate and to have confidence in his or her abilities.

The answers you receive to these questions will help you determine whether he or she is a good fit for you.

For a potential advocate who is a family member or friend:

  • Do you understand my wishes, values and treatment goals? Have them repeat these back in their own words.
  • Are you able to listen well and write information/take notes for me?
  • Can you be available when I need you?
  • Will you be willing and able to drive me if needed?
  • Are you willing to follow my preferences even if others disagree?
  • Are you willing to make calls to family, friends and doctors?
  • Can I trust you to keep my information private and confidential and not discuss it at social or family events?
  • Can you be and stay respectful to all medical staff, no matter what?
  • Are you willing and able to respectfully request that all staff introduce themselves, wash their hands, and check medications when coming to my bedside?

If you are seeking a professional advocate, you will want to keep these additional concerns and questions in mind:

  • What is your fee for service?
  • Do you have liability insurance?
  • Ask for references and a resume.
  • Will your schedule permit you to take on a new client?
  • Are you on-call 24/7 or do you work specific hours?
  • Do you write reports/summaries of the services you are providing? Discuss whether he or she has previous experience working with patients with ailments similar to yours.
  • Do you have any beliefs or restrictions that may affect my care plan?

This list is a sample and can be used as a start to the dialogue. Your wishes may change as your situation changes, so be sure to have a continuing dialogue with your chosen healthcare advocate. A Healthcare Proxy should always be seriously considered as well.


Click here to learn more about Family Centered Patient Advocacy Training.