Programs that provide a temporary place to stay for individuals and/or families who require this type of assistance based on the health condition of a family member.
Offices in hospitals and other health care institutions whose staff handle complaints from patients regarding the inpatient, outpatient or home health care they are receiving. These offices work within the system to help patients achieve satisfaction as an alternative to filing a complaint with licensing authorities or consumer action agencies, requesting the services of outside advocates or seeking legal advice from attorneys who specialize in the health care field.
Programs that offer the services of individuals who sit with people who are hospitalized or in another institutional setting in situations where the patients are determined to be at risk to themselves or their treatment because they are agitated, delirious or confused, unsteady on their feet or on suicide watch. Hospital sitters (also called "patient observers") work under the direct supervision of nursing staff and call for assistance if problems arise (e.g., the patient attempts to remove an IV line or get out of bed) or medical assistance is required. While in most cases sitters are supplied by the hospital or other institution in which an individual is a patient, some home health care agencies provide personnel that family members can hire to serve as an extra pair of eyes and ears to prevent errors and injuries or to function as a companion if they don't want a loved one to be alone.
Programs that provide support services for patients and their families during hospitalization and upon discharge, for people receiving outpatient services, for previous patients and for other people not previously associated with the facility who need the service. Included are consultation and the coordination of available services for the patient's continuing care at home or in a short or long-term care facility; or whatever other support may be needed to help resolve the logistical, social and psychological problems related to the illness.
Programs, usually staffed by volunteer private pilots, that provide flight services for medical missions which may include transporting human organs and tissue for transplants; plasma or whole blood; anatomical specimens for medical research; medical personnel, equipment and supplies; and, in instances of medical and financial need, individual patients who require services from health care facilities that they would be unable to access without assistance. Also included are programs that provide compassionate, non-emergency long-distance ground transportation for patients in need, usually by bus.
Departments within hospitals, HMOs and other health care institutions that provide for the spiritual care of patients with severe, chronic or terminal conditions, their families and staff, regardless of their religious traditions. Pastoral care workers work cooperatively with the health care team; listen, elicit and respond to individual religious/spiritual needs; identify and clarify ethical issues related to end-of-life treatment and care; provide bereavement support for family members, significant others and professional staff; and ensure that treatment addresses the whole person, not just his or her medical needs. The service is provided by licensed clergy or trained, accredited spiritual care volunteers.
Programs that provide services for children and adults with serious illnesses and/or their families that make them feel better about themselves or help them forget about their situation, at least for a time. Included are programs that arrange for celebrity visits, clowns, musical performances, portrait photography and other morale boosting types of patient and family support.
Programs that help people navigate through the maze of doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals, outpatient centres, insurance and payment systems, patient-support organizations and other components of the health care system with the objective of supporting timely delivery of quality care and ensuring that patients, survivors and families are satisfied with their encounters with the health care system. Personal health care advocates are trained health care workers, often nurses, or volunteers familiar with the health care system who work independently of any health care institution. They help patients identify specialists, coordinate appointments with providers to assure timely delivery of diagnostic and treatment services, provide "cheat sheets" of questions, and lay out the choices patients have in plain English. They may also ensure that appropriate medical records are available at scheduled appointments, accompany patients to medical appointments, arrange language translation or interpretation services, facilitate financial support and help with paperwork, negotiate insurance claims, arrange transportation and/or child/elder care, provide access to clinical trials and facilitate linkages to follow-up services. Some programs contract with employers to serve as personal advocates for employees who are ill; and others work exclusively with individuals who have specific illnesses, e.g., cancer.
Programs that grant wishes which will enrich the lives of people who are unable to fulfill them on their own, e.g., a visit to Disneyland, an opportunity to meet a film star or sports personality or a reunion with family members. Also included are programs that arrange trips or other experiences for individuals and groups. Most wish fulfillment programs serve children and adults who are terminally or gravely ill. Other populations may include seniors, veterans and individuals who are chronically or seriously ill, physically challenged or abused.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.