The Many Faces of Advocacy – Do You Need a Seniors Advocate?

The term advocate should not be taken lightly. Its origins come from Roman Law Courts.

In 1689, the Faculty of Advocates library was opened in Edinburgh. According to my Oxford Dictionary printed in 1962, advocate means professional pleader in a Court of justice, a counsel; one who pleads for another; one who speaks for a cause.

According to the Encarta Dictionary, advocate has a broader number of meanings today such as to recommend or support something; someone who supports or speaks in favour of something; a tireless advocate of social reform; a helper; someone who acts or intercedes on behalf of another; a legal representative; someone who pleads another case in a legal forum.

How fitting the word advocate is derived from the Latin advocare, to “add” a “voice.”

Advocates may come from the not-for-profit sector, private pay, or the corporate world. There are also volunteer advocates such as family, friends, and neighbours.

Depending on the issue, a level of expertise is often required for a person to be an effective advocate because it may be necessary to do research, compile material, and present it in an effective manner to achieve the outcome you are seeking.

Here are just a few examples of where you might need someone to advocate for you.

Legal Matters

  • Stand up for you and be your voice when fighting for your tenant’s rights.
  • Ensure you get the benefits to which you are entitled from government agencies.
  • Explain the benefits of a Representation Agreement, Power of Attorney, and a Will.
  • Ensure your properties are being sold or managed in an orderly manner.
  • Resolve family disputes.

Health Care Matters

  • Be a voice to speak up for your quality of life in residential care.
  • In hospital, communicate with health teams when questions arise about your medications, care plans, or hospital discharge.
  • Speak to the right person when raising questions or going further with complaints.

Financial Matters

  • Ensure you are getting all the government supports and tax credits to which you are entitled.
  • Ensure your daily financial needs are managed.
  • Watch for any misuse of funds.
  • Ensure your assets are being properly managed.

Housing Matters

  • Define options to make well- informed choices to remain in your home or move.
  • Ensure you are not being manipulated by others who say they want to live with you or say you should sell your home.

Daily Life Matters

  • Support and sound executive management for your daily life and support for the complex array of needs above.

A Seniors’ Advocate Should Assist and Support You in the Following Ways:

  • Work on your behalf as a legal representative (if the advocate is named in your Representation Agreement) or work as requested by you or by your legal representative(s).
  • Provide guidance and support and solve problems with care, understanding, and discretion.
  • Advocate while navigating the various systems to avoid potential problems. The systems may include housing, hospital, long-term and residential care, independent care, daily life management, and executive home management.
  • Understand and respect your personal values and needs.
  • Decipher the roles and responsibilities of various professionals as they relate to you as an individual.
  • Open the lines of communication between you and relevant professionals and family.
  • Help protect your rights as an individual.
  • Respond to your questions or needs in a timely manner.
  • Provide you with clarity for all actions taken.
  • Be accountable for his or her actions on your behalf.

Caution

And yes, there are advocates all around us but beware of the person who appears out of nowhere and offers to help you. Check credentials or ask a person you know and trust before you accept support. Never give account numbers or personal details over the phone.

Take a few deep breaths and recognize the value of asking for help.

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Barb Kirby, CPCA, is an Advocate, Consultant, and Navigator trained with the American Association of Dementia Practitioners and Seniors Services Society for housing . She has a Certificate in Values-Based Leadership from Royal Roads University and certificates in Advocacy and Seniors Residential Care with PovNet. Barb has 15 years’ experience as a family caregiver and chaired family councils in care homes for 7 years and chaired Advocates for Care Reform. Barb is the founder of seniorsAdvocate ca and the Vancouver Regional Mentor at BC Community Response Networks.

Telephone: 604 -767- 4994 Email:barb@seniorsadvocate.ca

Website: www.seniorsadvocate.ca

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This article originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Scrivener Magazine.

The Many Faces of Advocacy – Do you need a Seniors Advocate?
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