Advocacy Process

Open Arms Advocacy wants to help. We can assist by:

  • Helping you to navigate what can be a complicated healthcare system during a stressful time
  • Working with you to get answers and documentation, so you can get the care that you need
  • Acting as an independent party when you are speaking/meeting with healthcare professionals
  • Guiding you and your family through the process if you wish to make a patient complaint
  • Providing free, confidential and compassionate advice

The below information includes answers to our most frequently asked questions. Click on the (+) to expand the section you wish to browse.

What kind of cases does Open Arms assist with?

We advocate for a wide array of patient issues from emergency room care, senior care, women’s health, mental health and acute care to medical fatalities. We help patients get a second opinion, find a physician, place a complaint or access medical documents. Open Arms also helps families of patients with guidance, support and resources to get the answers they require.

What is the cost for assistance through Open Arms Advocacy?

There is no cost. Our services are free and our goal is to help people navigate the healthcare system.

Is Open Arms Patient Advocacy a part of Alberta Health Services?

Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society is an independent non-profit organization that works for the patient. We are not affiliated with Alberta Health Services, although, we will work with them to resolve patient concerns. AHS maintains their own body for receiving feedback and acknowledging complaints, called the AHS Patient Relations Department.

What can I expect during the Advocacy Process?

Our services are free!

1) Client contacts Open Arms through online Intake Form, e-mail or telephone.
2) Client discusses case with coordinator and a decision is made if Open Arms is able to assist.
3) If case is within the mandate of Open Arms, the coordinator will collect required forms from patient.
4) The patient file is passed to the Advocate Supervisor for assignment to an advocate.
5) The advocate will review the documents and contact the client.
6) The advocate will discuss situation and create goals with the client.
7) Advocate will guide the client in achieving their goals.

Do I have a legitimate case?

Clients that have contacted the organization to initiate assistance will discuss their situation with the Client Consultant. The Client Consultant will make a determination of the case and decide if the case is within the scope of Open Arms. In some situations, the client inquiry can be handled by the Client Consultant. However, if the client requires long term advocacy they will collect the needed forms and pass them to the Advocate Supervisor for assignment. In order to decide if a case is within Open Arms mandate, one of these situations must apply:

  • The client requires support and assistance in navigating the health care system.
  • Client has a complaint concerning the health care system.
  • Patient needs assistance with a diagnosis or is undiagnosed.
  • Client needs assistance with accessing the proper health care professionals.
  • Client needs help in collecting medical documentation.
  • Client is in conflict with health care professionals and requires support and guidance.
  • If there has been a breach of privacy concerning health documents and requires assistance with complaint or documentation.
  • If client requires assistance in determining their medical rights.
  • Is located in Alberta, Canada (sometimes assists residents of Saskatchewan and BC)

All cases are highly individualized and the best way to determine if your case is within our scope is to contact Open Arms and discuss your circumstances.

What documents will be required from me?

Once a client case has been accepted by our Client and Advocacte Consultant, the client will need to provide documents.
The client will need to submit the following forms.
All forms are simple and easy to complete. You may download the forms using the below links.


  • Information Release – sets out the extent of information that the client wishes to share with the Advocate. According to the Alberta Health Act, permission must be given to allow access to medical records, visits with doctors, conversations with AHS. Otherwise, the Advocate has no authority in the case and doctors/organizations are not obligated to include them.
  • Client Confidentiality – sets out the terms by which information will be handled between the client and the Advocate. The Advocate will respect the information disclosed by the client and keep it protected, not sharing it.
  • Waiver-Liability – sets out the protection of the Advocate and Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society from any legal proceeding the client may bring as a result of the relationship they establish and information they share with one another.
What duties will my advocate perform in order to assist me?

The following is a list of duties our advocates WILL perform in order to aid the client:

Advocates are persons who guide clients to achieve their desired medical goals. Advocates can only guide.

The more effort a client puts into their case, the more they will receive out of this process.

1) Guide clients in how to obtain any necessary medical records, information or documentation.
2) Scheduling permitted, attend important meetings with medical staff and Alberta Health Services, not every appointment.
3) Assist client in taking important notes as they apply to the goals of the case.
4) Guide the client in how to place complaints to the proper authorities and review the documentation.
5) Assist client in the writing of any needed correspondence as they relate to the case.
6) Facilitate communications with health care professionals and guide client in those communications.
7) Direct client to available resources, programs, and agencies that may aid in improving the clients health.
8) Assist client in acquiring transportation, if required.
9) Guide client through the media process, if warranted.

What duties lie outside the scope of what my advocate can perform in order to assist me?

The following is a list of the duties our advocates WILL NOT perform for their client:

1) Advocates do not help clients with financial issues including AISH. Open Arms does not pay for medical records, transportation or any financial requirements.
2) Advocates are not lawyers and are not qualified to provide legal advice.
3) Advocates are not doctors and will not diagnose the client.
4) Advocates are not counsellors and should not be used as an outlet for client frustrations. The advocates primary purpose if for guidance, however, if an outlet is required, an advocate can aid a patient in acquiring a counselor.
5) Media cases are rare and it should not be assumed a case can go to the media. The advocate has the knowledge to make that decision.

Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society has the right to release a client in the event the client becomes abusive or if the client is displaying an unwillingness to help themselves.