The Value of Empowerment
When I began my service term as a Senior Patient Advocate at the Family Practice and Counseling Network: Abbottsford Falls I was excited to more comprehensively appreciate the needs of senior patients as well as the variety of resources available to these individuals. As a senior patient advocate at Abbottsford Falls, I connect patients to social services and programs in an effort to keep seniors in their homes for as long as possible. More specifically, my role involves assisting with health insurance and aging waiver program applications, navigation of food resources, mammogram outreach, social determinants of health screening, and end of life planning. It has been eye opening to learn more about the social services and programs available in Philadelphia; yet, through the phone calls, emails, and in-person conversations I have had with patients I am most struck by how overwhelming it is for seniors and their family members to navigate these resources. Observing the difficulty patients often face in understanding their eligibility for the numerous health insurance programs in Pennsylvania, navigating home health care/palliative care/hospice care, and even identifying local nutritious food resources has highlighted the hurdles to gaining access to social services.
However, these hurdles have made me acutely aware of the importance of intently listening to the patients I work with in order to uncover their values and priorities, which enables me to recommend social services and programs that align with their preferences. Moreover, these hurdles have made me appreciate the value in effectively communicating the details about the services available to patients and associated application processes, while also leaving room for discussion about these resources to ensure patient needs are met and avoid misunderstanding. But most importantly, these hurdles have shown me the power in empowering patients with the information and resources needed to take charge of their health, healthcare, and overall lives.