It’s important for everyone to be in good health, but especially older adults. Fortunately, Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia (SCNOVA) has a way to assist elderly people with this: through our Health Advocacy service. Here is a close look at what this service includes.
What Is Health Advocacy?
Health advocacy is the process of promoting activities that are beneficial to a person’s physical and mental wellness. A health advocate volunteer can provide blood pressure screenings, health education and counseling, and offer clients referrals to community resources that can help improve their well-being. Health advocacy volunteers personalize their services based on the client and their needs.
Health advocates typically have backgrounds as physicians or physician assistants, nurses, patient care coordinators, hospital administrators, social workers, and home aid workers. In many cases, they also assist clients with reviewing medical bills and charges in order to verify their accuracy and ensure they are not fraudulent. If they have a legal background, they can also provide mediation services to resolve issues related to disability filings, workers’ compensation, advanced healthcare directives, among other things. Health advocates with expertise in mental and behavioral health can help advise older adults on how to manage substance abuse or resolve issues pertaining to mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
These types of volunteers are generally not required to have a deep understanding of medical terminology and services, although a basic familiarity with this can be helpful, especially with regards to providing counseling on potential treatment and preventive care solutions.
How to Choose A Health Advocate
A strong health advocate should be organized, calm, and able to take initiative. When seeking this type of assistance, it can be helpful to:
- Clearly describe your health concerns and the type of assistance you require
- Request the volunteer to either record discussions with medical professionals or take notes of these encounters. Remember to ask for permission before you record anything.
- Provide information about your medical history. This can help the advocate offer better recommendations for prescriptions or medical services.
- Request that the advocate give you references or testimonials from past clients
Once you have chosen a health advocate, make sure that this individual and the health care professionals who treat you can easily contact each other.
Get Help With SCNOVA’s Health Advocacy Service
Reach out to the professionals at Shepherd’s Center for more information about our health advocacy service. We are a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to caring for adults in Northern Virginia ages 50 and up since 1998. Our more than 250 volunteers are vetted and trained to ensure that older adults see improvements in their overall quality of life. We coordinate Wellness classes as part of our Adventures in Learning (AIL) program and also periodically conduct Health Workshops. The only “hands-on” procedure we perform is blood pressure screening.