We know that sometimes a website is not enough. Websites are a good way to obtain information about medicines but eventually you need to talk things through to come to an informed decision about your health and your medicines. It is important to be prepared for any conversations, so that you get what you need from them.
Checklist of questions to ask at your appointment
If you are going to meet with a healthcare professional, perhaps at a clinic appointment, it is best to make sure you get as much from that meeting as possible. It is a great idea to prepare for the meeting by listing the questions you want to ask and information you want to give. The following ideas might help you with this:
- Are there other ways to treat my condition?
- What do you recommend?
- Are there any side-effects or risks? If so, what are they?
- How long will I need treatment for?
- How will I know if the treatment is working?
- How effective is this treatment?
- What will happen if I don’t have any treatment?
- Is there anything I should stop or avoid doing?
- Is there anything I can do to help myself?
- What are the tests for?
- How and when will I get the results?
- Whom do I contact if I don’t get the results?
- What happens next?
- Do I need to come back and see you? If so, when?
- Whom do I contact if things get worse?
- Do you have any written information?
- Where can I go for more information?
- Is there a support group or any other source of help?
Hints and tips for appointments
- Write down your two or three most important questions.
- List or bring all your medicines and pills – including vitamins and supplements.
- Write down details of your symptoms, including when they started and what makes them better or worse.
- Write down details of any side-effects you think are being caused by your medicine, including when they started and if anything makes then better or worse.
- Ask your hospital or surgery for an interpreter or communication support if needed.
- Ask a friend or family member to come with you, if you like.
- Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand. For example, ‘Can you say that again?' 'I still don’t understand.’
- If you don’t understand any words, ask for them to be written down and explained.
- Write things down, or ask a family member or friend to take notes.
- You’ve covered everything on your list
- You understand, for example ‘Can I just check I understood what you said?'
- You know what should happen next – and when. Write it down.
- Whom to contact if you have any more problems or questions
- About support groups and where to go for reliable information
- For copies of letters written about you – you are entitled to see these
- 'What happens if I’m not sent my appointment details?'
- 'Can I have the results of any tests?' If you don’t get the results when you expect – ask for them. Ask what the results mean.
After your appointment, don't forget the following
- Write down what you discussed and what happens next. Keep your notes
- Book any tests that you can and put the dates in your diary.
Local community pharmacy
Specific advice on how your local community pharmacy can help you with a wide range of services are available on the NHS website.
If you want to talk to someone with an understanding of mental health but who is not a healthcare professional then you could consider other supporting organisations such as Derbyshire Mind.