Hospital and other medical appointments for your child can feel stressful and overwhelming, whether it’s for a new issue, a routine check-up or getting test results – and you often find that by the time you speak to the consultant everything you wanted to discuss has flown straight out of your mind, especially if you have been trying to entertain your child in the waiting room for a long period!
If you have multiple hospital appointments for your child across different departments, or even more than one child that needs appointments, then being super organised is the best way to keep everything straight and help you achieve what you want from each appointment, especially in the Covid era of longer wait times between appointments.
Planning everything out before-hand can often make you feel a bit more in control and ensure you and your child actually get what you need from the appointment, whether this a next step plan or reassurance. To help you make the most of your child’s hospital appointment we’ve put together some helpful tips.
Before the appointment:
- Have a notebook or dedicated space in your phone to keep track of all appointment dates, whether it’s in person or remote, what the appointment is for, who it’s with and any contact details including email and receptionist / secretary’s phone number. Be sure to note whether it’s an in hospital or remote appointment and if it is remote then test out the link so you don’t end up having to miss the appointment.
- There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving an appointment and realising you didn’t discuss everything you wanted to – so think about what you want from the appointment and prepare in advance a list of topics and questions such as how things have changed since the last appointment or what new treatment options might be. It’s also a good time to check in with your child about any new symptoms, worsening pain or worries about their condition.
- If appointments are ongoing it’s a good idea to check back with the details of the last appointment so you can refresh your memory, especially if it’s been a while.
During the appointment:
- Write your own notes or ask permission to record it on your phone. This makes it easier to remember exactly what was said to pass on to family, school or other agencies. It’s also a good way to remind yourself of any suggestions about what you can do at home to help your child. If you forget during the appointment you can always ask for a summary at the end.
- Let your child ask their own questions as well as answer those from the medical professional. It’s tempting to take over, but if a child is older and able, then ensuring their voice is heard is important.
- Re-visit any ongoing medications, are they still necessary? Are they working? Discuss any side effects. If new ones are prescribed check what they are expected to accomplish, the dosage, time to be taken, how they should be taken and duration before it is reassessed – and who should be contacted if there are any issues with them.
- If tests are done on the day ask when and how you will receive the results and who to chase if they don’t arrive as expected. If tests are to be arranged, ask what they are for and what the expected time frame for the test is and who is responsible for arranging them. That way you know when to start chasing for dates and who to contact.
- You should receive a report after every appointment with the medical professional, but if you are speaking with a new one involved in your child’s care it’s always a good idea to mention that you expect this.
- Ask them ‘what would you do, or what would you want to happen if you were in my shoes’, as this may reveal options or avenues you hadn’t thought of.
After the appointment:
- Make sure you are sent the report from the hospital appointment – you may need the details for other documents such as DLA or an EHCP.
- Keep notes of any and all ‘chasing’ conversations you have including time, date, who you spoke to, what was said. If necessary make a note in your diary of when to try again.
- If there is a change in your child’s health or you are unsure of anything discussed, call or email to let them know. If you don’t have contact information for the relevant medical professional this can usually be found by calling the hospital switchboard.
The NHS is beyond stretched, so you may have to keep on top of chasing up appointments, test results, surgery dates and any expected deliveries – which is why it’s so important to have a clear record of what was discussed and decided upon. Sometimes being your child’s advocate means having to shout up – loudly.