In less than one week, we will be announcing the winner of this year’s Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award. This is a big deal – and not just for the winner, who will find some perks that go along with the award.
It’s a big deal to you, too, because in many ways, the stories our applicants told, and the questions they were asked to address, are what defines excellence in patient and health advocacy. In other words – these attributes, based on Ken Schueler’s work, goals and ideals define what we consider to be a top-notch, client-life-enhancing advocate. The candidates’ demonstrations of four of the six goals is what determines the winner.
Let me explain. The six attributes are:
- Empowerment ( Helping patient-clients make their best choices by empowering them with the information they need to make fully-informed decisions for themselves)
- Inclusion ( Recognition that patient-clients of all ages, races, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socio-economic status have a right to engage with a health or patient advocate or navigator.)
- Integrative, Evidence-Based Approach ( Providing materials and research to the Nominee’s patient-clients that are part of the published literature, and, where appropriate, integrative in nature (combination of traditional, complementary and/or alternative).
- Continuous Learning (Improvement of Nominee’s own skills, continuing education, taking courses, volunteerism, activities undertaken to expand capabilities and knowledge in a new direction.)
- Sharing and Mentoring (Helping other advocates and navigators improve their knowledge of the field and/or expand their capabilities.)
- Community Visibility (Creating awareness of health and patient advocacy by speaking to groups, appearing in the press, participating in social media, activities focused on being an ambassador for the profession.)
In the reviews of the applications for this year’s award, each of the committee members (including me) made phone calls to the references provided by the applicant-candidates. Those calls left such an impression on me! The superlatives used by the clients I called – the true appreciation and the strong bonds built by some of our candidates and their clients were heart-warming and awe-inspiring.
A few points to share that repeated themselves – aspects of the work that the best candidates demonstrated:
- The candidates who got the most enthusiastic endorsements from their clients had focused on not just the patient, but on the patient’s family, too.
- Outreach was not just about the tasks at hand, but occasional “hey, how are ya doing?” phone calls or emails.
- A very regular reporting system to the client or caregiver was in place – summaries of everything from doctor’s appointments, to phone calls made, to meds delivered.
- The advocate anticipated need, before the client knew he/she needed it. Suggestions for aspects of their care that the client hadn’t yet thought about were appreciated.
Toward the end of this week, we’ll announce the winner of this year’s Schueler Patient Advocacy Compass Award. Stay tuned! And, as important, take a close look at those attributes and these great practices, because they will begin to put shape to the definition of excellence in patient and health advocacy.