Not a week goes by when a new advocate tells me he or she plans to establish their new advocacy practice as a non-profit organization.
“Why do you think you want to establish your practice as a non-profit?” I ask.
“Because then I won’t have to ask patients for money,” is the nonsensical response.
“Then where will your money come from?” I continue. “How will you sustain your business?”
“That’s why I called (or wrote to) you!”
Last week, my neighbor sent an email to a group of almost 50 people. She asked us to donate to a specific charity in honor of a neighbor who had died because she thought it would be a nice thing to do. She wanted them all to send their checks, made out to her. She would cash them and send one large donation.
There are so many things wrong with her method! As well-meaning as she was, she now has people angry with her for several reasons. NOT because she was trying to spread generosity, but because the way she did it was so questionable.
I realized it was a good topic for our TIPS because you never want to make a similar mistake! Both her message and the mechanics were problematic. So let’s take a look.
Mrs. Franklin is 87 years old and has several old-age-related health challenges. Although her husband died many years ago, she has lived quite well on her own since then. Her son, Jimmy, lives 800 miles away. She has no other children.
Jimmy Franklin has hired you to be his mother’s advocate; to attend appointments with her, to arrange for her transportation to those appointments, and to provide feedback to him about his mother’s health, including her cognitive abilities. He reports that she’s been forgetful lately. He’s also worried something will happen and if she needs hospitalization, he wants to be sure you’ll be there to advocate for her, at least to stay with her until he can make travel arrangements.
The stage has been set….
What could go wrong? Plenty. Here is an example, and some must-do tasks to go along with it:
Years ago, I wrote on the APHA Blog: Just Can’t Throw the Switch? The Analysis of Paralysis
Wow! What a nerve I touched with the point — that sometimes we spend so much time worrying about what might happen if we attempt something big (like starting a new business) that we are too paralyzed to actually take the leap.
So let’s take a look at that leap…
Yes – it’s a biggie! And while it’s not to be taken lightly, there are some truths that might help you take the leap.
First – let’s define it:
From your first contact with a potential client, whether it’s by phone or in person, keep track of what you learn and what you’ve promised.
When you get started, you may think, “Why do I need to write down every detail? I can remember what I told him!”
But what if the prospective client doesn’t call you back for several weeks? Or what happens the minute you have a second client with similar needs? Even if it’s just an inquiry – you’ll begin to mix up their stories, their needs, your promises – any part of the conversations with them. What you tell a prospective this week might be entirely different than what you’ll need to tell her in a few weeks. But to be consistent, and to sound professional, you need to have documentation to remind you of what you told her.
In fact, you’ll want to track much more than you can carry around in your head, no matter how well you remember things. The best practice is to record everything – from client details to family members, providers, medications, and new prescriptions, discussion summaries, to-do lists, decisions, ideas, wishes, advance directives (as appropriate), other documentation and its location – anything that might be helpful at another time.