Health care professionals that may be part of the health care team include nurses, personal support workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, dieticians, social workers, and more! Each health care professional will have specialized knowledge and responsibilities. This can result in many visits and/or appointments from several different specialty areas. It is important to consult with the person in your care before every appointment as appropriate. The person receiving the care should be involved in all health care decisions and conversations. Keep reading for tips on preparing for appointments and advocating for the person in your care throughout the appointments. We have also provided some examples of questions that may be appropriate to ask when meeting with health care professionals.
The person receiving the care should be involved in all health care decisions and conversations.
Preparing for the visit or appointment
- Make a list of things that the person in your care would like to share with the health care professional(s). Make each detail as specific and measurable as possible. For example, when did the symptoms start? What makes them worse? What relieves them? How often are they experienced? etc. It can be helpful to record symptoms on a calendar or in a journal as they happen because it can be difficult to recall this information at every appointment.
- Write down questions as you and your care recipient think of them so that you can refer to your written notes at appointments and record the answers.
- Be prepared to share the person’s health history many times. With the person in your care, create a record of diagnosed conditions/diseases, surgeries, copies of hospital x-rays or scans, and major health events to share with each new health care professional if this information is requested. Include dates, past tests (and results), and treatments.
- A list of current medications (prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal/naturopathic substances) should also be kept up to date. Remember to report any allergies or adverse reactions to medications, medical supplies, or food.
- For home visits, ensure that you have a comfortable place to meet that will provide the appropriate level of privacy.
- It's a good idea (actually, a great idea!) to take notes during appointments with health care professionals in order to refer to them later and clarify important points that were discussed.
Supporting and advocating for the person you’re caring for
- Discuss your level of involvement in the appointment with the person in your care prior to the appointment. How much does the person want to say themselves? Do they want you to advocate for them throughout the entire appointment?
- Make sure the care recipient is positioned to be the center of the conversation. Encourage the care recipient to highlight key emotional issues like what is important to them, what worries them most, and any other stresses.
- Ensure that the person receiving care understands, to the best of his or her abilities, the care plan, treatment and/or diagnosis and gives verbal or signed consent to the care plan or treatment. This should also be done when there are any changes made to the plan of care. Having an advance care plan is important.
- What will happen during the treatment? What should the person expect? What should you look for?
- When and where does the treatment take place? When is the next appointment?
- Where do you pick up supplies or equipment?
- Why does he/she need this test?
- Why has he/she been diagnosed with this condition?
- Why is this treatment being given?
- Who do you call for more information or in an emergency?
- Have confusing words and terminology clearly explained so that you both understand them. If it will help, request information in writing.
- Ask for a referral to a reputable resource (such as a website or information line) to gain more information about the treatment, condition/disease, or test. Avoid consulting with Dr. Google!
Coordinating and managing appointments with multiple health care professionals can be challenging. However, keeping detailed notes about each appointment can help both you and the person in your care in knowing who each member of the health care team is and what they are responsible for.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.