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B*tching and Moaning – Therapeutic and Educational
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s always an eyeopener and usually quite unsettling. When done well, and handled well, it can turn out to be therapeutic, and has the potential for great opportunity. I’m talking about moaning, groaning, complaining and yes – b*tching. Whether it’s a client complaining about an advocate, or the other way around, sometimes it’s fair and understandable, sometimes not. Sometimes it can escalate. Other times it can be diffused. In all cases we can learn from complaints. So let’s take a look. Sometimes Clients Complain about Advocates In the past 10 years, I’ve received a small handful of complaints from clients about advocates they hired, and they are always very disturbing to me. Advocacy is supposed to be about trust and reliance, about smoothing one’s path through the healthcare system. If I see a complaint, I know that hasn’t happened. Last week I heard from a complainer (I’ll call him Tony) who was loaded for bear, but very short on details. He asked how to lodge a formal complaint against one of our AdvoConnection advocates, stating, My family hired a healthcare advocate who is listed as a member of your site and organization. We enlisted in a very intensive program with the advocate; and as things progressed it became clear that she was not only not effective but was actually doing things to damage the healthcare that our family member was receiving. Her performance and her way of working was damaging enough that I am concerned there is risk to other patients that hire her. Whoa! That’s quite an accusation! Then he asked how our “industry” handles complaints. Of course, APHA is not an entire industry, but I sent him a link to our complaint form which explains how we handle this sort of feedback. (You may be interested in our feedback process. It was developed by a task force of advocates a few years ago, with the major goal of making sure any complaints become learning opportunities. It was not set up to punish. It was set up to improve service. It…