Nicole Christensen Earns Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) Certification

Nicole Christensen, owner of Care Answered, has earned the Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA) credential. The BCPA designation acknowledges patient advocate professionals who have demonstrated their experience and proficiency in the field of patient advocacy. The BCPA credential is built on ethical standards, professional competencies and best practices for professionals who work in the emerging field of patient advocacy and have taken the steps necessary to become certified.

Christensen started Care Answered, a healthcare coordination and patient advocacy consulting firm, in 2014. A native Long Islander who has lived and worked in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as NYC, she has more than 15 years’ experience in advocacy for older adults. Christensen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Baruch College and a Master of Science degree in Urban Affairs from Hunter College. Her career includes serving as Advocacy Director at Emmaus Service for the Aging in Washington, DC; Advocacy Consultant for LiveOn NY; and Director of Food Access at FoodChange, spearheading the focused outreach and advocacy campaign. As the Vice President of Programs and Agency Relations at Island Harvest, she developed and launched the first senior citizen mobile outreach and advocacy program.

In addition to her professional experience, Christensen has had the personal challenge of securing the best possible care for her own family and thus understands how overwhelming and daunting it can seem.

“I call upon both my professional skills and my personal experience to provide every client with effective advocacy,” said Christensen. “Knowing how to navigate the healthcare system, access the benefits to which families are entitled, and obtain the safest, most appropriate care for my clients and their loved ones is so rewarding. My goal is to provide families with peace of mind and often help them save money as they ensure that their loved ones are well-cared for.”

After conducting industry research, the BCPA certification was created to recognize professionals who are committed to ongoing professional development and the attainment of the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their jobs at the highest level. The BCPA credential is also an avenue for employers to recognize and promote professionalism in patient advocacy.

“It is gratifying to have achieved this certification attesting to the knowledge and experience I have amassed during my career,” said Christensen.

For additional information on Care Answered, visit or call (516) 584-2007. To learn more about PACB, visit its website.

Advocacy in the Hospital- Webinar 4/27/17-Register Today

Advocating in the Hospital-Webinar 4/27/17 Register today
Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT
This is an online event.

Family First Home Companions hosts their next webinar- Advocating For a Family Member in the Hospital.  This webinar will feature guest speaker, Nicole Christensen, patient advocate and CEO of Care Answered.  Nicole will provide tips and tricks to give you the information you need to be ready if/when your loved one is hospitalized.  The presentation will include the following:
  • Key things to watch our for to prevent medical errors
  • Communicate your loved one’s needs without alienating the medical team
  • Who to turn to for support in the hospital
  • How to interpret your hospital bill and catch mistakes
Attendees will leave this webinar fully equipped to handle the next hospitalization.
Click on the link below to register or RSVP.
About The Speaker:
Nicole Christensen is the CEO of Care Answered, a healthcare coordination and advocacy organization specializing in older adults and their families.  Care Answered expertly navigates the healthcare system for clients and helps remove the strenuous obstacles common place in the healthcare process.  Holding a Master of Science in Urban Affairs, Ms. Christensen has over 15 years of professional advocacy experience.  In her work, she had the opportunity to develop and strengthen advocacy programs in Washington DC, NYC and Long Island.  In addition to her professional experience, she has personal knowledge of the challenges of healthcare coordination and advocacy from assisting her own parents. Ms. Christensen’s expert opinions and presentations are requested by Feeding America, news outlets, businesses, civic organizations, congregations, and legislators.

Cultural Competency in Healthcare-It can be a matter of life and death

Cultural Competency; what is it and why should I care?

Are you or a loved one any of the following:

-Female                      -Black                -Latino

-Jewish                      -Christian         -Muslim

-Have immigrated to the US (no matter how many generations ago)

-LGBTQ                     -Native American

-Young                       -Old                     -Have a genetic condition

YES! It would be hard to at not have at least one of these things be true; so therefore cultural competency affects YOU and your health. Cultural competence in healthcare refers to the ability for healthcare systems to demonstrate cultural competence toward patients with diverse values, beliefs, and behaviors.

There are things Care Answered does, as your advocate, to assist in the selection of appropriate clinicians.  We can help them see you as a whole person for your best care.


Let me share with you quick personal stories regarding cultural competency.


When I was in my 20s I selected a primary care doctor close to my work and made an appointment for a check-up.  I was appropriately asked if there was anything wrong and I answered “No, not particularly; I was just wanted a check up to make sure everything was going well and get a baseline”.  The doctor stated “Why are you here if you feel fine? You’re young; there is likely nothing wrong with you”. The doctor had no family health history at that point and knew nothing of my health. Now, I went through with the appointment and I was fine.  However, the assumption that if you’re young than you are fine is sadly not accurate. (Thankfully I was fine) But, perhaps that doctor did not perform all appropriate testing because of the assumption that I was fine. Or maybe some other young person did not go to him for yearly checkups because they thought it was a waste of time based on this doctor’s response to check-ups for younger adults. And we know what you don’t know can hurt you.­­­­­



I am an African American woman and I go to the dentist about every 6 months. For the past 10 years different dentists have seen shadowing in x-rays on the roots of some of my teeth.  After asking me if I had any trauma to that part of face and my response was no; most of them suggested I go to an Endodontist and get a root canal because that shadowing means the nerves of the teeth are affected. I have never had a root canal, but I know enough that I didn’t want to sign up for one unless I really needed it.  In these ten years I have never had pain in these “shadowed teeth” so I did nothing. So ten years later I see an African American female dentist for my six month cleaning and check-up.  They did the x-rays again and the same shadowing was there. After asking me the same question regarding trauma to my face and listening to my history she said oh it’s very common in African American women as the bone density of the teeth differs in spots and the x-ray picks it up as these shadows.  We will continue to watch it but no, you don’t need a root canal. Now, if I had a different mindset I could have caused myself needless pain and a lot of money getting several root canals because other dentists didn’t think outside the box and perhaps saw me as another mouth rather than an African American woman with a mouth.

So those are just two of my personal stories.  And there are so many more.  So many older adults get the “you’re getting older” diagnosis. I say this in all my seminars: Getting older in not a diagnosis!  If it were, I would be finest diagnostician in the world (and I don’t even hold a medical degree).  Every one of us is getting older.

Cultural incompetency can lead to misdiagnosis, prolonged illness and even death.  So here are some tips:

-Talk to your clinician and/or the office staff with whom you make           the appointment and ask questions like:

-I am (blank) does s/he have many (blank) patients?

-Could these symptoms indicate any other diagnosis?

-If I had the same symptoms but was not of this (gender, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, etc.) would there be other suggestions you might have?

-Do you feel comfortable treating a (blank) person?

-My culture/religion/faith/ does or does not allow (blank) do you have another potential solution for this?

If you are not comfortable with the answers seek another doctor.  If you are not comfortable asking the questions call on an advocate-your health is at stake.

Please take time to share your stories.  We can all learn from each other.

You are in the Hospital! Now What?

Nurse Helping Senior Woman To Walk

You are in the Hospital! Now What?

You find yourself or your loved one in the hospital. It’s emotional and overwhelming. So what is the first thing you do?


Ok no big surprise at that response, right? But let’s go through some other very basic necessities

-Have list of current diagnosis, medications/supplements (including name, specific dosage, when you take it, how long you have been taking it) with you

Here are some question that you need answers to:

-What tests are being given?

-What can these tests tell you/me?

-What medications are being given now?

-What are these medications for specifically?

-Have any pre-hospitalization medications been discontinued?

-Am I being officially admitted into the hospital?

-What is my diagnosis?

-Will you contact my primary care physician?

-I would like to discuss my discharge?, eldercare

Yes, that’s right I said discuss your discharge. Your safe and healthy discharge should be on your care team’s minds the moment you’re admitted. You don’t want any surprises. You should have input and understanding of your health goals. Yes, you want to get the heck out of the hospital! Make sure you are on track to leave with all the steps to make a full recovery to your healthy self.

There is so much more to do and know but this is to get you started and thinking. But really do call a professional healthcare coordinator and advocate.