The Caregiver's Journey

To the Health Care Team

Becoming an advocate about TBI begins when you first meet the healthcare team who care for your injured service member/veteran.

Try to learn as much as you can from them about TBI and the treatment plan for your service member/veteran. Try to learn as much as you can about the DoD and VA medical systems and how to use these services.

This is all part of getting the facts. Understanding the facts will make you communicate better with everyone.

Tips for advocating with healthcare providers:

  • If you have problems or concerns with the care your service member/veteran is receiving, identify what you think is needed.
  • Be specific.
  • Talk about your service member/veteran’s needs directly to the members of the healthcare team. 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/veteran’s healthcare facility.
  • Try not to be confrontational.
  • Come prepared with a list of your questions when attending care conferences. Take notes during meetings or ask a friend or another family member to do this for you.
  • 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.
  • Remember, the healthcare providers are in charge of your loved one’s 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 loved one yet. You are telling them.
  • Give reasons for healthcare providers to give special care to your family member. Tell them about his or her stories and personality traits. If they get to know your loved one, they may be more alert to his or her care.
  • Often, if you let healthcare providers get to know you, they will listen to your concerns with better understanding.