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Career Story: Patient Advocate

Patient Advocate

Job Title: Elderly Services Care Advisor

Type of Company: My agency is a not-for-profit "Aging Services Access Point" which receives government funding to provide social services, home based care, and nutrition to the elderly in eight towns.

Education: MS, Gerontology

Previous Experience: Homemaker Supervisor Case manager for the elderly Elderly Low-Income Housing Manager

Job Tasks: I help low-income seniors receive services they need to remain living at home. I help them get home health workers to come into their homes to help them with bathing, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. I help the elders fill out food stamp applications and access other services they might need to stay at home. I help them apply for government benefits like MassHealth. I help them get medical equipment which might make it easier for them to live at home. I help them get transportation to medical appointments. I help them with getting signed up to attend meal sites and help them with translating if they do not speak English. I work with many Russian- and Chinese-speaking seniors and although I do not speak these languages, often they need me to just be patient and understand a few simple statements of theirs, and then I can call an agency and advocate on their behalf. Sometimes we call a relative or other professional to translate but often they need me to just call their landlord and explain that their sink is not working which is easy enough to demonstrate. Mostly they need someone to call various agencies or doctors' offices and advocate on their behalf.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is helping people.

The worst part is doing hours of data-entry and paperwork that is required because these services are paid for by the state and federal government. But it's important to document what work is done and what the elder needs, in case I can't come to work, my co-workers can check my records and continue to help the elder. So it's time-consuming and boring but important.

Job Tips: It would be helpful to have a degree in social work to not only help the seniors but help build your careers. There are many more jobs available to people with masters degrees in Social Work (MSW) than there are for other social work degrees. It would be worth putting the time in to get the degree that will open more doors and provide higher compensation for your whole career.

Additional Thoughts: Social work is also a great way to work and raise children. I now work "part time" (24 hours) and it's the only way I could work with two young children.

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