This article is written for and on behalf of older persons in Dominica by an advocate for older persons.
The dictionary defines an advocate as someone who pleads the cause of another. In the nursing profession, advocacy means preserving human dignity, promoting patient equality, and providing freedom from suffering.
The author of this article believes that this definition applies whether you are a nurse, a social worker, a healthcare worker, a care assistant in a professional setting, or, a carer at home.
Nurses, health workers, social care workers, and carers at home play a critical role in delivering efficient health, wellbeing, and general social care – to older persons.
Insofar as it relates to the health and general wellbeing of an older person, whether it is medical care, day-to-day care, and/or hygiene care, they are the ones who have the most interpersonal contact with patients.
This puts us (the advocate), in a unique position to act as the liaison between patients, their family members, treating physicians, and anyone involved in delivering medical or care services to the patient.
Nurses and caregivers play an extraordinary role in the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable – our elderly. Given the role that we play in these individuals’ lives, we have no choice. We must seek justice for our patients.
‘Justice’ in the context of medical ethics (according to themedicalportal.com) is ‘the principle that when weighing up if something is ethical or not, we have to think about whether it’s compatible with the law, the patient’s rights, and if it’s fair and balanced”.
Justice in health means that every human being is treated with dignity regardless of their colour, creed, race, age, or social standing.
The role of a patient advocate is crucial. We are the ones who must ensure that our patients, the persons entrusted to our care, receive justice in health and social care.
Being a patient advocate for our elders requires extraordinary strengths such as resilience, courage, compassion, and competence, and a determination to ‘fight for the rights of the person whose care you are charged with – who you have been given the honour to care for.’
The role of a nurse, a healthcare worker, a caregiver, or social worker as a patient advocate for older persons is a powerful one and one that, if executed with resilience, compassion, care, and professionalism will take health care for older persons in Dominica to the next level.
The American Nurses Association (ANA), in its code of ethics, states “the nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.”
It is unethical to provide care to an older person – whether it is medical or social care – which results in harm or injury to that person and/or which has a detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing.
The Code of Conduct for Health and Social Care workers employed at PHARCS includes the following:
As a Healthcare Support Worker or Adult Social Care Worker you must:
- Be accountable by making sure you can answer for your actions or omissions.
- Promote and uphold the privacy, dignity, rights, health, and wellbeing of people who use health and care services and their carers at all times.
- Work in collaboration with your colleagues to ensure the delivery of high-quality, safe, and compassionate healthcare, care, and support.
- Communicate in an open, and effective way to promote the health, safety, and wellbeing of people who use health and care services and their carers.
- Respect a person’s right to confidentiality.
- Strive to improve the quality of healthcare, care and support through continuing professional development.
- Uphold and promote equality, diversity, and inclusion.
We, PATIENT ADVOCATES, are the voice of our vulnerable ELDERLY PATIENTS.
CALLING ALL PATIENT ADVOCATES. WHO ARE “WE”?
Social Care Assistants
Carers looking after elderly loved ones at home
WE MUST SPEAK LOUDER FOR OUR ELDERLY PATIENTS!
When we start truly advocating for our elderly patients the entire health and social care systems in Dominica will become more effective, and more patient-led and we will see much better outcomes for our elderly patients.
Article written by : Marie-Therese Junkerre
Founder and CEO of PHARCS
And self-appointed Advocate for Older Persons in Dominica
Friday August 5, 2022