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.
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.