I am a user of healthcare services.
My family are users of health and social care services.
I have had good experiences and not so good experiences.
This OTalk is not a place to name or call out services but to talk about what we might learn from our experiences in terms of improving our practice. We have looked specifically at ‘When OT Goes Wrong’ already so this time I want us to think more generally about specific practical changes we could make to services based on our own experiences. I’ll share a couple of examples below.
For example I tell students about the time I went to Ear Nose and Throat out patients because I had been experiencing nose bleeds. I went in and got told they would put something up my nose and for me to go and sit out in the waiting room. In patient mode I let that happen and as I was waiting I became concerned that my mouth and nose were going numb and tingly, not actually having been told I had been given a local anaesthetic because they were going to cauterize my nose. This has most definitely taught me a lesson about informed consent and I will try and give a full picture to someone before undertaking interventions and ask them if they have any questions about what’s happening.
One of the biggest challenges I see as a relative of those receiving healthcare is that unless someone asks the right questions patients often seem to not be given the full picture. This links to earlier talks we’ve had about health literacy but as health professionals we should be trying to give a fuller picture. I think the Information Prescription service could be useful here. Is there general advice you give out on a regular basis that could be made into an information prescription?
Jokingly, after a recent encounter, I wondered if the NHS should employ an update service. You know when you are in a phone queue and the music stops intermittently to tell you your position in the queue? Maybe you should be able to log in and enter your password and it tells you what position in the queue you are for surgery, for an appointment etc. This might of course fluctuate depending on emergencies, but at least you’d know. In A&E they never seem to update the ‘the current waiting time is’ sign. It’s a bit galling when it says the current waiting time is two hours when you’ve already been waiting for four. Obviously emergencies happen but this is all about communication. When people know what is going on they are less likely to become frustrated.
In fact clarity of communication seems to underly all of my more frustrating experiences with healthcare and I wonder if this is the case more widely.
So, in preparation for the chat I want you to think about your personal experiences, anonymise them, but more importantly think about what you’ve learnt from them and what you might do differently in your own practice. Have you fed any of these ideas back to the equivalent departments in your own workplaces?