by Bonnie K. Brown
I received a wonderful message the other day that reminded me of the incredible power of Patient Advocacy. It came from a client of mine, named Barb, who turned her father's end-of-life experience into a beautiful testament to how the simple words, "I'm sorry but that doesn't work for me," can make all the difference in the world.
Determined Advocacy for Quality Care
Barb found the perfect assisted living facility for her father after he had a heart attack and could no longer care for himself. It was a small, independent facility (with just 9 rooms), and it was absolutely perfect for him. However, things took a troubling turn when her dad had a slight fall and was taken to the hospital for observation. He was fine, but the hospital kept him longer than necessary. Determined to get him the best care possible, Barb took matters into her own hands, advocating relentlessly for his discharge. After much effort, she finally succeeded in getting him back to the nursing home where he belonged.
Challenges and Swift Action
However, new challenges quickly arose when the oxygen her father now required was not delivered as promised. As a result, her father had to be taken back to the hospital, where once again he lingered. Barb knew she had to act swiftly to get him back to the facility where he felt most comfortable. So, she pushed the medical supply company to get the oxygen delivered (as they had originally promised) and then pushed the hospital to release her father once again.
Embracing Hospice Care
During this tumultuous time, Barb was also attending Alzheimer's and Dementia care support group meetings and received a resounding recommendation from one and all for her to contact hospice for an evaluation. Being that she remembered my “always be prepared for the next step” rule, Barb decided to contact hospice and have an initial evaluation done on her father and look into what services they offered.
A Peaceful Passing
When Barb arrived at her father’s room to meet with the Hospice Nurse for the initial evaluation, her father wasn’t feeling very well. He hadn’t had much to eat for breakfast, they said, but he was glad to see her, as always. But much to everyone’s surprise, the evaluation didn’t go as expected. Instead, the nurse told Barb that her father’s passing was “imminent”. Shocked, she looked at the nurse with disbelief and said, “Like NOW?” “Yes”, the nurse replied. Nobody saw that coming. So, Barb acted swiftly, calling her siblings right away for them to say their final goodbyes. And within a few short hours he had passed away peacefully surrounded by her love in a serene and comfortable environment. It was the kind of passing that she had always hoped for and talked to me about. Quick, easy, and painless.
Gratitude and Ripple Effects
Barb credited the incredible outcome to her patient advocacy skills and what she had learned from me about always being prepared for the very next step and learning to speak up & speak out when you feel that things are just not right. She acknowledged that without her determination and persistence in advocating for her father, his end-of-life experience would probably have been so much worse, and that she would have been wracked with guilt had he died unnecessarily in a hospital waiting to be transferred back home.
Her message to me was filled with heartfelt gratitude, praising my help and the power of advocacy in transforming a difficult situation into such a peaceful and loving passing. I felt such a sense of pride and fulfillment in the work that I do as a Board-Certified Patient Advocate and for the wonderful outcome that it brought to Barb and her family. Her story exemplifies the rippling effects that patient advocacy can bring, where one person's knowledge and determination can positively impact the lives of many others in a simple, yet profound way.
Creating a Legacy of Compassion
In the end, Barb's story served as a poignant reminder that patient advocacy is not just a profession; it's a journey of compassion, and transformation, one that brought her a great peace of mind and created the rippling effects of love and support that extended far beyond our wildest expectations.
The simple words, "I'm sorry but that doesn't work for me," empowered her to better navigate her father's end-of-life journey with confidence, capability, and control. She then turned around and used that opportunity as a teaching moment to make her children aware of her end of life wishes, turning it into a powerful learning tool to ease the way for her own future, and giving everyone involved a profound peace of mind.
The impact that Patient Advocacy has on the lives of others can lead to A Better Life® for everyone involved, creating a lasting legacy of understanding and compassion that ripples through generations to come.