Lynsey Jackson’s patient anxieties give rise to practical and considered advice to make the patient experience better
Having been thrown into the NHS system three years ago for the first time since I was born, I have been equally impressed by the people taking care of me and frustrated by the systems of communication that can only be described as archaic and somewhat bewildering at times.
As a person I’m usually pretty good at keeping a level head and working things out, but with added anxiety and stress due to my health situation, I found myself repeatedly wondering how anyone elderly or with any type of disability found the whole process, if I was finding it so stressful and confusing at times!
Patient Stories Series
This week on Click on Wales we are running a series of patient posts in relation to our new crowdfunding campaign for our Helping Patients Change the NHS project.
As an anxious patient worried about an impending appointment, there is definitely something reassuring about receiving a clear set of instructions about the date, time and nature of your appointment. A map for beginners is also welcome to help find your way around the maze of the hospital, as well as providing a useful tool to show to any random hospital staff member when you got lost and you can’t remember where you are going. Information on what would happen at the appointment would equally be welcome in terms of whether you were having an examinations or just a follow up chat.
Unfortunately for me over the last three years this has rarely happened and each communication and visit (I’ve easily had 4-6 visits a year) has varied slightly in terms of information provided and how much more anxious I felt at each visit; from appointments letters continuously arriving after the appointment, to a single random text reminder. The most efficient method of communicating my appointment date was when one of the staff team rang me up. The information provided has often been vague and generic, which adds an extra layer of anxiety, especially when you need to prepare mentally if you have something like a physical examination.
After three years, I more or less understand the quirks of my branch of the NHS system and the processes within. I know an appointment or results letter can take up to three weeks, so once I’ve hit my worry peak, it is better just to ring up. I’m prepared for every appointment eventuality (clothes on or off) and I know when I’m concerned about anything the staff go out of their way to fit me in for an appointment. I know my way around the areas of the hospital I need, I even know where there is a quiet toilet to compose my nerves.
For me this is so much of a human issue, ensuring we take the time to understand different perspectives and experiences and we develop solutions that answer these needs. I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of someone else and think about what I would do to improve the experience.
Technology won’t solve it alone and we need to work together to design the best system we can for now. This is why this is such an important project and hopefully you think so to.