Frequently Asked Questions
How did you become a patient and caregiver advocate?
Well, let me explain…I went to undergrad college at the University of Buffalo, and because of my passion for helping people, got a dual BA in psychology and health & human services. I was ready to take on the world. I became a social worker, and was discouraged with my career because of all of the bureaucracy and red tape I had to wade through to actually help someone. I certainly did not become a social worker to get rich, but my career has sustained me through difficult financial times. Even though I was discouraged, I always enjoyed working in the healthcare arena of social work with my favorite population — “seasoned” women (40+), which includes me.
I saw how many of them were in healthcare facilities where I worked and I noticed a common theme — vulnerability, lack of knowledge of resources and thinking they had no choices in their care. Some of the things I saw absolutely disgusted me…medical errors, poor patient treatment, and the way some of the doctors operated made me want to flip out. What disgusted me most of all was that profits were the priority, not patients. Everyone was pressured to do things that enhanced the bottom line, not the interests of the patient.
As a social worker, my job was to advocate for patients, families, clients and consumers. I have been doing it since 1994. Find out more about me here.
Why did you form Live Better Boomer!?
As many negatives as I saw in the healthcare system, I have been a party to the madness in working for them. I was a part of the machine. To maintain myself emotionally, I had to distance myself from how hospitals and nursing homes that I worked in treated patients, residents and their families. I needed my paycheck, just like any other hospital social worker or navigator – so our allegiance is to the place we work for, not the patients.
All of it did not hit home until it happened to MY family. You can read about it here. After what happened to my dear grandmother, I was inspired to take my knowledge and experience to help people get their best healthcare. I was tired of not being able to help patients FULLY AND COMPLETELY. I give people options and information they can use in their healthcare journey so they can make informed decisions. Please check out our Live Better Boomer!’s mission, vision and values here.
What is advocacy and why is it important to me? Why is it important for me to stand up for my best healthcare?
Because YOU are responsible for your own healthcare. Long gone are the days where it will be done for you. Healthcare is a business, and you are a customer. This is why I have dedicated my career to assist those that need it. For more about advocacy and what it means to you, please click here.
What sets you apart from other advocates or patient navigators?
I have a dual BA in psychology and social work, and a Masters in Journalism. I’ve worked with thousands of clients and families and advocated for what they needed while in crisis for two decades. My education and experiences have given me a unique perspective in assisting my clients with getting and keeping good healthcare. I’ve dedicated my career to it, and my passion for it gives me the gas to drive Live Better Boomer! I have worked with family and friends (for which I am a pitbull). I know where you are, and I can help.
Again, patient navigators, social workers or advocates usually work for a healthcare system — and that is to whom they pledge their allegiance. If their allegiance is to the healthcare system that they work for, what about you? Believe me I know, I have worked in hospitals and nursing facilities and had been taught this mindset.
Not every advocate has been trained within the healthcare system, so I have that advantage and experience as well. Many advocates tout bringing themselves or their loved ones through the healthcare system, which I have done myself, and that is how they have gained their experience. Not all advocates, and I say this respectfully, have dealt with the healthcare system personally (for family, friends AND myself) and professionally as I have. I also have the perspective as a patient and a family member. All advocates are doing a great thing, and I may not be the one for you. As long as you recognize your power and get the help you need, great!
Who do you work well with?
I am very personable, so I work well with many types of people. I work well with people that:
- are open to new ideas, and want to “think outside the box”
- are active in their healthcare
- want to be in charge of their healthcare journey
- believe their healthcare is of vital importance
- need to know the questions to ask while in the healthcare system
- are not really sure what where or how to begin to improve their healthcare experience
- are exasperated, exhausted, frustrated, tired or overwhelmed with their treatment during their healthcare journey
- people who need support NOW
I will be kind, compassionate & a good listener with experience as a patient — I’m hoping for clients who can work with that!
Who are your ideal clients?
I have dedicated my career to serving people and helping them to get their best care. An ideal client of mine would be:
- anyone frustrated with trying to navigate the healthcare system
- anyone with a new diagnosis or in need of management of their current diagnosis
- long-distance caregivers (adult children that live a long distance from their parents)
- anyone in a love/hate relationship with their doctor or other healthcare provider
- anyone in need of help with caregiving, medication management or advance directives
- anyone who needs to choose a good health care insurance plan
- anyone who is had problems with doctors, healthcare billing, or the healthcare system itself
- anyone who is newly insured
- anyone who really wants to take charge of their healthcare for themselves & their families and realizes the importance of managing your healthcare effectively
- any seasoned adult with frequent healthcare appointments
- any employer interested in providing a great service to valued employees, which will help their bottom line & morale
- anyone who “doesn’t know where to start” in their healthcare issues
- those in crisis with their healthcare situation
- anyone seriously interested in taking charge of their healthcare
- those that need a plan or blueprint for navigating the healthcare system
What results can I expect?
Healthcare is a highly personal experience for everyone. Your results may vary based on:
- what kind of help you are looking for
- the area or areas where you need assistance
- the kind of healthcare providers and systems you have available where you live
- the overall condition of the client
- how you utilize the advice you are given
- family, environmental, financial, medical or legal issues concerning client
- the ability of the client or responsible party to adhere to my advice
One thing I can guarantee is this — you will be fighting a good fight. This is for your health and for the health of your loved ones. You will be more clear and confident about your healthcare journey. You can expect results when you put the efforts. Not everyone’s results will be the same, and you may not always when each battle. But you will win the war in getting better healthcare.
What is an advocate?
An advocate is a party that acts on another person’s behalf with their permission. You can advocate for yourself, and you can advocate on behalf of someone else. If you act on behalf of someone else, it is usually because they have limited ability to speak up on their own behalf. If you can speak for yourself, you can advocate for yourself.
Private advocates work strictly for their clients, and all of their focuses and outcomes should be client-based. Advocates maintain privacy and get permission from clients to handle private matters. Hospital advocates work for the HOSPITAL.
Are LBB!’s services covered by insurance plans?
Unfortunately, no because advocacy is not regulated by the government. LBB!’S SERVICES ARE PRIVATELY PAID BY THE PATIENT OR PARTY RELATED TO THEIR SITUATION. However, because that is the case, the only limits that are placed on LBB!’s services are the ones that YOU make. No insurance company will dictate what will be done for you here. If you decide to use a hospital or insurance person to help you navigate your healthcare services, they have to save money for the party they work for, which would be the hospital or insurance company. If that is their goal, are your interests really at the top of their list? Unfortunately, no.
What makes you the one that I should work with on my crisis?
Hey, I can understand with all of the people out there that can help you, it may be difficult to make a choice on who should. But I offer a unique set of experience – as a healthcare social worker in hospitals and nursing homes, an advocate for family and friends, and as a patient myself. The information I will give you is information I have used myself and given to my loved ones with success. I know my stuff, and it has been tested. Now your situation is unique and I cannot guarantee the same results as mine because of the difference in conditions, location, doctor experience, how you use the information, and personalities. I have been a healthcare insider, patient and social worker.
Why do you focus on 40+ adults?
Boomers and Gen-Xers are poised to change health care in America forever, by sheer numbers alone. If they all demand better health care, the system has no choice but to conform. It won’t happen without the knowledge you need to demand better care. They are smart, tech-savvy and have learned to question the answers they get about important issues such as healthcare.
Why is advocating for my best care important?
Because YOU are important. And the decisions about your healthcare will directly affect your life and the lives of your loved ones.
And guess what else? You are responsible for your own healthcare. Long gone are the days where things are handled by the doctor. You have to ask the questions. You have to make the appointments. You have to make sure that all of your healthcare providers are on the same page. If you do not, it could cost you your health, and worse, your life.
For example, let’s say you receive a new medication from a provider who is not aware of anything else you are taking (and does not ask). What if it doesn’t mix with your other medications? Or you are allergic to it? This kind of thing could be solved simply by communicating your needs, your medical history (to every provider that will listen), and your medications. That is one way you can advocate for your best care.
Once you learn how to do it, it will become second nature to you. No one knows your body and your situation like you do, so who better to advocate for you? Self-advocates believe in dignity and respect for themselves and their care.
Can I learn to advocate for my best healthcare?
Absolutely. By learning the right methods and information you need to have a better healthcare experience, you can learn to adapt those methods to you situation, whether you want to advocate for yourself or someone else. The courses and e-books that Live Better Boomer! offers can help you ask the questions you need to ask and will help you change your attitude toward your healthcare. It does take effort, but your healthcare deserves effort.
Do you make medical/legal decisions for anyone?
No. But Live Better Boomer! will equip you with information in order for you to learn to advocate for your best healthcare, which will empower you to make the best healthcare decisions for you and your loved ones. LBB! will help you learn to communicate with your healthcare providers and to document your healthcare and health conditions so that they may provide you with the personalized care that you need.
What kinds of topics do you coach clients on?
As a healthcare social worker, I’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge in the healthcare and eldercare fields. For other areas that may be of interest to my clients, have developed partnerships and a team of experts to assist me in giving my clients the best information. Here’s a sampling of the things I teach:
- learning how to advocate for your best care
- hospital stays
- managing medications
- caregiving advice
- help with your healthcare insurance and choosing a good plan
- help with billing and claims
- finding the best doctor or other healthcare provider for you and your family
- making the most of your healthcare visits
- finding out about advance directives
- handling a chronic diagnosis
- researching healthcare facilities
- questioning your healthcare providers
- getting resources you need
- doing your healthcare homework
- chronicling your complete medical history
- and more!
Live Better Boomer offers coaching programs and one-on-one services with Tiffany as the coach or advocate for your critical issues. You can get answers to quick questions through the Live Better Boomer! Email or Skype service or hire Tiffany to perform case management services for situations that need more of a personal touch.