To the Healthcare Team

Becoming an advocate for the injured service member or veteran begins when you first meet the healthcare team who care for them. Case management coordination is available to assist you. Get to know the team members and the treatment care plan.

Try to learn as much as you can from them about TBI and the treatment plan for your family member. Try to learn as much as you can about the Department of Defense and the Veterans Affairs medical systems and how to use these services and resources. Information is included in the Family Care Guide.

This is all part of getting the facts. Having an understanding of the facts will help you communicate better with everyone.

Tips for advocating with healthcare providers:

  • If you have problems, concerns, or questions about the care your injured family member is receiving, ask for clarification about these things, and identify what you think is needed and why.
  • Be specific.
  • Talk about your family member’s needs directly to the members of the healthcare team. Working with the team on the care plan can ensure open and fluid communication. Early morning is when doctors make their rounds, visiting patients. This may be the best time to talk to them.
  • Be clear and be firm about what you need.
  • Be persistent and firm, but in a cooperative manner. If you don’t get a response right away, keep asking.
  • If this approach does not seem to work, contact the Ombudsman or Patient Advocate at the service member or veteran’s healthcare facility.
  • Try not to be confrontational.
  • Come prepared with a list of your concerns or questions when attending care conferences. Take notes during meetings or ask a friend or another family member to do this for you. Bring a recorder or use a smartphone or tablet to capture discussions with the healthcare team, if approved by the provider and hospital, to better facilitate retention of fast-paced meetings that may include medical terminology or jargon. When tired or stressed, our retention suffers. Being able to go back to the conversation leaves less room for interpretation and reduces multi-tasking, allowing you to fully attend to the meeting and stay on message.
  • Do not tell someone how to do his or her job. It seldom works. Instead, talk to the person as a concerned family member and explain your worries calmly.
  • The healthcare team is in charge of the service member or veteran’s medical care. You will be talking with them on a regular basis.
  • Work with the healthcare providers. Remember, they are well intentioned. They might not know the exact needs of your family member yet.
  • Tell the healthcare team about your family member’s stories and personality traits. When they get to know the service member or veteran, they may be more “in tune” with his or her specific needs.
  • Often, if you let healthcare providers get to know you, they can listen to your concerns with better understanding.