WHAT TO DO WHEN EVERYONE SAYS NO: Advocacy Strategies to Access Treatment and Medications

This session is intended for Caregivers, Patients

“There are no guaranteed outcomes, but good practice in advocating provides better opportunities for success.” Donnna Thomson

We live in a time of change. Advances in medical treatment are unprecedented, but so are the efforts of health care funders to curb their allowable patient expenses. Often, it’s not until we need a treatment, therapy or medication that we discover it is not covered under existing provincial or private health care benefits.

This three-part series will introduce patients and caregivers to how the health care funding system works and how to access the treatments they need. Health navigation knowledge and skills will be presented alongside best practice advocacy strategies, including how to successfully leverage the help and goodwill of friends, family members and health care professionals. In this highly interactive series, participants will be provided with templates, check lists and other tools to get them started in their own advocacy plan – or help them re-think their current approach.

Series Resources

Questions to ask yourself before you begin advocating: click here to download the document
Resources Handout: click here to download the document

Series Itinerary

Part 1: Advocacy Basics – Building a Winning Team
October 19th, 2016 – 18:30 to 19:30 pm

This session will introduce participants to the principles of successful advocacy in accessing medication and treatment.

Missed it? Watch the Recording of this Session Here.

Part 2: The Levers of Power in Health Care: Knowing Who to Ask
October 26th, 2016 – 18:30 to 19:30 pm

This session will introduce participants to the process of strategic inquiry (information gathering). Roles and responsibilities of governments and insurance industry.

Q&A with Louise Binder

Missed it? Watch the Recording of this Session Here.

Part 3: Building Your Strategy: The Toolbox
November 2nd, 2016 –  18:30 to 19:30 pm

This session will review how the Advocacy team,the process of strategic inquiry and the knowledge of health care systems fit together. Introduce technique of writing a briefing note and coordinating the efforts of the team and communication among team members.

Missed it? Watch the Recording of this Session Here.

Part 4: Ask Questions to Perfect Your Plan
November 9, 2016 –  18:30 to 19:30 pm

This session is your chance to ask questions, share experience and offer ideas.  In this interactive Q&A, Donna Thomson will field your questions, problem-solve and facilitate group brainstorming on how to maximize the chances of success in advocating for treatment

Missed it? Watch the Recording of this Session Here.

  1. Caregiver, Author, Consultant. Donna Thomson began her career as an actor, director and teacher, but when her son Nicholas was born with severe and multiple disabilities in 1988, she embarked on her second career as a caregiver. Now also a caregiver for her mother, Donna is the author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I've Learned From a Life of Caregiving.

  1. Louise Binder is a lawyer and health advocate who has been involved in informing the development of health policy and systemic treatment access practices from a patient perspective for more than 20 years. She started her work in this area in the HIV community in the early 1990s after her own diagnosis and before effective treatments were available for HIV. She co-founded the Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) in 1996, which successfully ensured access to treatments and quality care for people living with HIV by working with the federal and provincial governments and other relevant stakeholders to enhance drug review and approval systems, pricing policies and access to liver transplants for this community.


  1. I would be very interested in a webinar/etc. on the role of Representatives (or TSDMs), and how to build cooperative team relationships with residential care facilities. I find that most facilities are not clear at all about the role of the Rep/TSDM; and make decisions that affect ‘basics needs’, medication and ‘quality of living’ (adversely) without consulting the Rep/TSDM.

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