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What is a Health Care Advocate? What makes you different from other advocates found in hospitals and community?

The private Health Advocates that work with CHAI work exclusively for you and only you. Also referred to as Patient Advocates or Healthcare Navigators, we are experts in navigating the Canadian healthcare system. CHAI Health Advocates have no allegiance to a health region or insurance company.

How long will I need the services of a CHAI Health Advocate?

The length of service depends on your individual circumstances and overall health goals.

  • The initial assessment will help determine your immediate needs and your Health Care Advocate will help initiate a plan going forward. The complexity of your situation and the scope of your goals will determine the extent of your needs for education and support.
  • Most individuals require 5-10 hours of professional services following their initial consultation. Individuals with complex acute or chronic illnesses may utilize CHAI services on a recurring basis with monthly visits to review changes in conditions and treatments.
  • The plan for working with your CHAI Advocate is discussed and mutually agreed upon at the initial assessment and at each subsequent meeting.

How can I make sure I get the best possible care?

  1. Find a family doctor that listens, knows how to communicate, and is not resistant to making referrals.
  2. Be involved and participate in your health care.
  3. Do not be afraid of second opinions.
  4. If you are a caregiver, go to the patient’s medical appointments with the person you are caring for. If the patient is in the hospital, be there as much as possible. Be involved in any decision that is made and any care that is given. Be an extra set of eyes and ears.
  5. It is OK to go online and look for information about your illness or injury. Research the sources you use and always double check the information with a medical provider.
  6. Follow up on referrals, appointment/test dates, and test results. It is possible for these important things to get “lost in the shuffle.”


What is the most effective way to communicate with my healthcare team?

There are ways to communicate with your healthcare providers to get the best results. Focus on using clear language, asking informed questions, and “keeping your cool.” Remember that it is always best to stay in control of your emotions and to be respectful. This will give you the best chance of building a trusting and efficient relationship with the members of your health-care team.

See our blog Effective Communication With Your Healthcare Providers.

What are my rights as a patient?

People don’t always know that they have rights within the Canadian healthcare system, let alone what those rights are.

Here are some examples of your patient rights:

Patients in Canada have the right to the following:

  1. To receive appropriate and timely care
  2. To be treated with dignity and respect
  3. To receive health services without discrimination
  4. To have their personal and health information protected from disclosure
  5. To have access to their health information unless, in the opinion of a relevant health professional, the disclosure could result in immediate and grave harm to the patient’s health or safety
  6. To refuse consent to any proposed treatment
  7. To receive information relating to any proposed treatment and options
  8. To the recognition of your Representative or Substitute Decision-maker
  9. To the recognition of your Advance Directive
  10. To a second opinion
  11. To pain and symptom management

Each province has documented Patient Rights.

Why is it important to have a patient advocate come with me to my appointments with my healthcare providers?

To clarify, an advocate can take the form of a loved one, a friend, a caregiver or a professional health advocate. The point is to have an extra set of eyes and ears during those appointments ALWAYS.

Statistics show that a healthy person under no stress only retains 17% of information communicated in a routine doctor’s appointment. That percentage goes down significantly if someone is feeling unwell or has just received a difficult diagnosis or a poor prognosis.

What is the difference between a medical appointment with a patient advocate and without?

An appointment with a patient advocate (or other third party) present will tend to run more smoothly and be more efficient. Medical providers tend to be very receptive to having an extra person there and are generally willing to stay in the room longer and answer more questions.

A health advocate can help facilitate good communication between the patient and the medical provider. They can also listen to the information being shared, take notes, make comments, or ask questions that get missed as well as interpret complicated medical jargon for the patient and spend time with you after your appointment going over what was said.

Patient advocates can also act as a buffer if tensions arise during the appointment and can help mediate the meeting to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.

Do I have any options for subsidizing the cost of a patient advocate?

Possibly. Some employee assistance programs and insurance companies have coverage for our services. Depending on how your current policy is worded, patient advocacy services may be included under nursing services or case management. This can be discussed further with your health advocate.

Or consult your tax advisor. Under certain circumstances, our services may be tax-deductible.

Can I still get help if there are no health advocates in my city or town?

Yes, we can work remotely with patients either online or by phone. Our virtual services include all the same work that we do in person (with the same fees). If a patient has any challenges communicating by phone or video chat (for example, if cannot hear well), we ask a family member to participate and help with communication.