Lift Up Your Voice!

“I was depressed in the beginning; I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Now I feel like I can fly even without wings!”

Most people find the American health care system difficult to navigate. For people with multiple chronic conditions, frail elders, parents of children with special needs, and people with disabilities, navigating the health care system can prove to be an overwhelming challenge. Patients experience these problems in very concrete ways. They are rushed through their doctor appointments. They aren’t invited to participate in decision-making about their care. Their doctors don’t talk to each other so they endure duplicate tests and procedures. They are confused about their medications. They leave the hospital unclear about the follow-up instructions only to end up back in the hospital within weeks of their discharge. Instead of treating the whole person, patients are treated like a list of medical diagnoses. The health care system needs to be improved to ensure that patients are at the center and their needs are met according to their wishes.

Too often, patients accept the problems and issues they face with the current health care system and assume “this is just the way it is.” They feel helpless. What they don’t realize is that while these problems are all too common, there are broad-based policy solutions that can improve their experiences and provide for better care - and a better life.

A participant and trainer at a recent sessionLift Up Your Voice! is an interactive training program that educates people about the health care system. It teaches them the invaluable role that individuals play in shaping health policy, trains them on advocacy strategies, and introduces them to state and local opportunities to hone their newfound skills to influence policymakers.

Lift Up Your Voice! helps them to:

Lift Up Your Voice! graduates have gone on to advocate for better care in important ways, including speaking with the media and meeting with legislators. Their individual voices lend a powerful, moral dimension to advocacy efforts and serve as an important and compelling lever with policymakers. In addition to policy efforts, some Lift Up Your Voice! graduates have been motivated to make changes that affect their own well-being and that of their loved ones.

This Trainer’s Manual is a resource for guiding new trainers to lead successful advocacy training programs to engage participants and motivate them to get involved in a local or state advocacy effort aimed at transforming the health care system so it promotes better health for everyone, but especially for the most vulnerable among us.

The Trainer’s Manual contains the following sections:

Section I: Preparing for the Training

This section provides the Lift up Your Voice! advocacy trainer with the necessary tools and information for getting ready to conduct a training. It includes information about finding appropriate venues, a timeline, checklist, and the Lift Up Your Voice! Toolkit.

Section II: Recruitment

This section provides the Lift up Your Voice! advocacy trainer with information on how to recruit participants for a training.

Recruiting the right people requires a commitment of time, energy, creativity, and persistence. Even more importantly, successful recruitment for your training will require a well thought-out plan. This section gives you the tools you will need and suggestions for promoting and advertising the training. It provides helpful tips to guide you through the process.

Section III: Empower

This section is where the Lift Up Your Voice! training actually begins. It starts with the welcome and an introduction and various activities that include: Shining the Light; Telling a Good and Truthful Story; Story Share Out; and a powerful video called Ginny’s Story. These components of the training are described further in this text, with links to trainer scripts and the corresponding materials for each activity.

Section IV: Educate

This section educates participants about the role that they can play in shaping health care policy. The two presentations give participants a better understanding of the power they have to effect change in the health care system. This section contains two PowerPoint Presentations with facilitator scripts.

Section V: Engage

This section gives participants a chance to practice what they have learned during the training. Each participant will have an opportunity to engage in one of three interactive exercises. These activities offer an opportunity for small group work.

Section VI: Resources

This section offers links to useful websites and documents that provide more information.

For more information, please contact:

The Lift Up Your Voice! Advocacy Training for Older Adults and Their Caregivers has been independently evaluated by the Gerontology Institute, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Read the summary here.

"Lift Up Your Voice! A Trainer’s Manual" was written and produced by Community Catalyst. "Lift Up Your Voice!" advocacy training was developed by Community Catalyst with the assistance of Rosa Palacios of The Commonwealth Care Alliance and Lori Fresina and Diane Pickles of M&R Strategies."Lift Up Your Voice!" was developed as part of The Campaign for Better Care with the generous support of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

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