Empowerment begins with knowledge. The way patients become empowered is through ongoing learning and the use of educational tools. However, just because healthcare professionals advocate for patient empowerment, it does not mean that all patients want to be empowered.
If we take a look at The Stages of Change Model, we can conclude that change in regards to empowerment isn’t consistent, nor is it easy. Empowerment takes effort and engagement. We’ve taken the time to dive deeper into empowerment at each of these phases in The Stages of Change Model.
As a patient at this stage, you are blissfully ignoring the problem that needs to be addressed. At this point, your healthcare providers are providing you with information about your condition, however accountability needs to be desired on your end. This is the stage in which you should be exploring and really thinking about what it is you want for yourself and for the betterment of your health. At this step, healthcare providers are likely to encourage the need for change and stress the importance of seeking treatment.
So you’ve now acknowledged that there is an issue, but you are not quite ready to do anything about it. Why not? Are you feeling nervous or unsure? This is your chance to ask your healthcare professional any and all questions you have about your condition. They can provide you with knowledge distillation tools to better understand your treatment options, opening up the door to a variety of possibilities. Providers can also address your concerns and guide you in your decision by outlining the pros and cons of treatment options. Similar to taking accountability in a fitness journey, being accountable for your own health means being willing and motivated to get better.
Now that your practitioner has provided you with tools and resources, you start to feel confident enough to begin preparing for change. At this point, your healthcare provider will help you make decisions about your own care, but ultimately, the decision is yours. Do you desire the best outcome? Or are you just trying not to worsen your condition? The key is to start outlining your goals and plan of action. This will help you decide the best route for you. Work with your healthcare professionals to come up with strategies and ideas to help you stay actively motivated. Your healthcare journey can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.
People often say “Starting is the hardest part”. Introducing new habits and changing up your routine is uncomfortable and difficult. When you begin to take action and make changes for your health, it not only involves you, it involves your healthcare professionals as well. Build accountability by creating a support system around you that encourages you and helps you monitor your progress for your best results.
Besides beginning a new chapter of your healthcare journey, maintaining your healthy habits and sticking to your goals can also be tricky. It’s important to recognize that change is a two-way street. It’s not all on your healthcare providers to provide you with resources to help you improve, you also need to be continuously educating yourself on ways to improve your condition. Remember, change is rarely instant. It takes consistent habits, reinforcing behaviour, confidence and self-efficacy to make noticeable strides in your healthcare journey.
Changing up your daily routine and creating consistent habits is not easy. And although The Stages of Change Model is outlined in phases, these phases may not be linear for everyone. At CONNECT, we recognize that it’s normal to feel unmotivated at times and bounce back and forth between phases. The important thing to remember is that you and your healthcare professionals are a team. And if you are empowered to do so, they are working to provide you with the tools to help you make meaningful, lasting changes and ultimately improve your overall health.