COVID-19 Did Not Teach Us About Community – Patient Advocates Did

May 29, 2024

Last week, I tested positive for COVID-19. In 2024, this sentence is less fear-inducing than it was only a few years ago. Today, many of us put COVID-19 in the same category as a flu or a bad cold – a testament to the power of social distancing, masks, and vaccinations. Some things have stuck with us, though. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all learned the importance of strong support networks – though we could not always hug our family members or share food with friends, we found ways to keep each other safe and sane.

For decades, patient advocacy groups have been advocating for the very principles that helped us during the pandemic. These organizations, often led by patients and caregivers themselves, have long understood the importance of community support in managing health challenges. By establishing strong support networks, these groups have provided patients and their families with resources, peer support, and a sense of community. By advocating for patient rights and better healthcare policies, patient advocacy groups have worked to ensure that the healthcare system is more responsive to the needs of all patients, highlighting the importance of patient-centered care, a concept that gained even more relevance in 2020.

Looking forward, our experiences during and since the pandemic should drive efforts to strengthen community support systems, ensuring they are better equipped to respond to future crises. This includes bolstering local networks, enhancing resource sharing, and supporting mental health initiatives. Policymakers and healthcare providers should work closely with patient advocacy groups, leveraging their expertise and networks to create more resilient healthcare systems. These groups’ deep understanding of patient needs can inform more compassionate and effective healthcare policies.

Embracing these lessons will be crucial in building a healthier, more connected society. Patient advocacy groups have long understood the power of community, and we ought to be looking to them as their insights will be instrumental in shaping a future where collective action and mutual support are central to our approach to healthcare.

Core Curriculum

Introduction to Patient Advocacy in Canada

This course will introduce students to the core concepts and skills needed to be a professional patient advocate in Canada.

Advanced Curriculum

These courses will provide students with advanced concepts and skills to be professional patient advocate in Canada. The three different themes will focus on three common themes that patient advocacy leaders in Canada generally concentrate on:

  1. management/leadership
  2. changing policy, and
  3. advancing research.

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