Progress:

  • Get facts current
  • Compare options
  • Your feelings
  • Your decision
  • Quiz yourself
  • Your summary
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Get facts

Get facts

Understanding what your healthcare professionals tell you and the treatment decisions you make is vital to your health and wellbeing.

Some people might feel uncomfortable about questioning the advice of healthcare professionals or speaking up if they feel they are not being respected by healthcare workers. Other people may feel more confident to keep asking questions until they get the information they need or will find another healthcare professional.

For people who do not speak English, an interpreter may be required.

In these situations it may be helpful having someone you trust who can advocate for your needs and can help you get the best possible healthcare. They can also help you make difficult decisions and ensure your rights are respected.

Key points

1. You have a right to have someone speak on your behalf

You have a right to make decisions and choices about you care, and that includes nominating someone else to represent you when dealing with healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals must treat your advocate as they would treat you – with respect, dignity and consideration.

2. Anyone can be your healthcare advocate 

You can choose a family member or a trusted friend to be your advocate. 

It is often best to choose someone who lives close by and who can commit the time to stand with you when you need them.

3. Your health condition might mean you cannot communicate well

Although you may usually have no problem dealing with healthcare professionals on your own, sometimes a particular injury or illness can mean you are temporarily less able to speak up about your care. In this circumstance, you might consider asking for additional support.

4. Use someone who understands your needs and can speak up 

It is important that the person you choose to be your healthcare advocate is someone who understands your needs, priorities, values and beliefs so they can offer support to you, or speak on your behalf,  even when you are not in the room. Often this person is someone you have an ongoing relationship with.

5. Many people feel confident to act on their own

Most people advocate for themselves all the time without even realising it – when they speak, act or write on their behalf, such as filling out forms. Many of us never consider asking someone for help. 

How to use this tool

This tool will not tell you what to decide. Instead, it will help you to reflect on what is important to you and prepare you to take your next steps. 

Use this tool to gather your thoughts, weigh up the benefits and risks, identify where you need more information and assess how you are feeling. It will take a little time to go through all the steps in the tool.

At the end of this guide, you will have a summary of your thinking in one place. You can then print this summary and use it to discuss the situation with family, friends and your GP.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a GP.

Compare options

  Option A: Act on my own Option B: Find someone to support me
What are some benefits?

Feel empowered
You may already be confident when talking to healthcare professionals, asking questions about your healthcare, and communicating your needs and preferences.

No need to rely on someone else’s availability
Acting on our own means that we can deal with situations when they arise and do not have to rely on someone else being available to support us.

Help you understand
Having someone there to support you can help you better understand your treatment options so you can make informed decisions.

Negotiate disputes
Your support person may also be able to help you resolve disagreements with healthcare professionals or help with communication.

What are some risks?

May not get your needs met
If you are having trouble understanding your healthcare professionals or do not feel they are listening to you, you may not get your needs met.

May continue to receive unsatisfactory care
If you do not feel able to ask questions about your care or to speak up when you are not happy, you may not get the care you need in the long term, which can be detrimental to your health.

Choose the wrong support person
If your support person does not fully understand your needs, values and preferences, you may not get the support you are seeking.

Feel less empowered
When someone speaks on your behalf, you may feel less in control. Building your own confidence to communicate with your healthcare professionals may be better for you in the long term.

What are the key steps?

Research
Part of acting on your own is investigating your healthcare options.

Ask questions
Ask questions if you do not understand your options or if you want to investigate alternatives.

Speak up
Speak up if you are unhappy about your care or want your options explained another way.

Think about who you would choose
Consider people you know who understand your needs, priorities, values and beliefs. Make sure they have time available to support you.

Get a support person  
Ask someone (or a number of people) to be a support person for you, making sure they fully understand the responsibility of the role and the time commitment.

Use your support person
Arrange for your support person to accompany you when dealing with healthcare professionals. This could include being with you at appointments and helping fill out paperwork.

Your feelings

Your preferences are an important part of the decision-making process. Read the statements below and think about what matters most to you. Slide the bar left or right to record how you are feeling about the two options.

  • Option A: Act on my own
  • Option B: Seek a support person
  • Option 1

    I am confident I can act for myself.
  • Option 2

    I am not confident about acting for myself.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
  • Option 1

    I feel well informed about my treatment options.
  • Option 2

    I am worried about agreeing to treatment I do not want because I do not understand the options.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
  • Option 1

    I have been happy with the way my healthcare professionals have been treating me.
  • Option 2

    I do not feel my rights or choices are being respected by my healthcare professionals.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
  • Option 1

    My current state of health means I should have no trouble acting for myself into the future.
  • Option 2

    Because of the nature of my health condition I might not be able to represent myself well all the time.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.

Your decision

Now that you have thought about the key issues and your feelings, think about where you stand on needing someone to support you. Move the scale below to show which way you are leaning right now.

Which way you're leaning

  • Option 1

    Act on my own You feel you can act on your own at the moment.
  • Option 2

    Seek a support person Seeking support sounds like a good idea and you want to learn more about the best way to do it.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.

Quiz yourself

The questions below will help you think through what is important to you and where you may need more information. After answering these questions you will get a summary of what you have recorded as your priorities and concerns so far. You can take this with you to discuss with family or friends as well as your healthcare professionals.

Check the facts

Question 1: Which of the following would be the most important reason for you to seek a support person?
Question 2: What would be your first task to do before deciding you need a support person?
Question 3: What is your biggest concern about seeking a support person?

Decide what's next

Question 1: Do you understand the options available to you?
Question 2: Are you clear about which benefits and side affects matter most to you?
Question 3: Do you have enough support and advice from others to make a choice?

Certainty

The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
Question 2: Check what you need to do before you make this decision.

Your summary

Your decision

Next Steps

Which way you're leaning

  • Option 1

    Act on my own You feel you can act on your own at the moment.
  • Option 2

    Seek a support person Seeking support sounds like a good idea and you want to learn more about the best way to do it.
The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.

How sure you are

The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.

Your comments

Your knowledge of the facts

Key concepts you understand
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Key concepts that may need review
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What matters to you

Your preferences are an important part of the decision-making process. Read the statements below and think about what matters most to you. Slide the bar left or right to record how you are feeling about the two options.

  • Option A: Act on my own
  • Option B: Seek a support person

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The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
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The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
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The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.
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The next control is a slider. You can use the up or right keys to increment its value, or the down or left keys to decrement its value. The values range from 1 to 7.