In this section:
> Stress management
> Technology and stress relief
> Less Salt
> Lower cholesterol
> Healthy Snacks > Coping with guilt
> Be more assertive
> Boost your immune system
> Tempt your elderly or frail relatives outdoors
> Avoiding back pain
> Getting the most from your GP
> Advice on prescribed drugs
> Difficult conversations
> Moving the person you care for
> Relaxation tips
> Laughter therapy
GP appointments last 8 to 10 minutes on average Dr Mehmood Syed, Bupa Home Health Care’s medical director, reveals how to make the most out of your slot. .
1. See your usual GP if possible:‘Seeing the same doctor who is familiar with your relative’s medical history can be beneficial, as you don’t have to keep repeating the background and going over well trodden ground’, says Dr Syed.
‘This is especially important if your relative has a chronic condition such as diabetes or arthritis, although it may be less important for other illnesses. Having said that, it can sometimes be useful to have a fresh pair of eyes on a problem so equally don’t be afraid to see someone different if you want a second opinion.’ .
2. Stick to one or two problems at a time: Make sure you get the most out of your GP appointment. If you have several problems, it may be best to prioritise which are most important. If you do genuinely have a lot to discuss, try to book a double appointment or try to come when you need to rather than storing up a batch of problems.’ .
3. Get your point across: ‘Sometimes patients will talk about all manner of things and then as they’re about to leave ask about the really significant or real reason for the consultation. The GP then has to try and restart the consultation, leaving little time to provide a good service. Don’t be afraid to be upfront about the real reason you have come to see the GP.’ .
4. Don’t dominate your relative’s appointment: ‘If you’re a carer, your GP may find it helpful to ask you questions about your relative’s medical complaint. But remember to let your relative do as much of the talking as they can.’ advises Dr Syed. .
5. Avoid coming in with a pile of internet print-outs: ‘Whilst reputable websites have some useful information and your GP will welcome your input, at the end of the day he or she is the one who is trained to make a diagnosis,’ explains Dr Syed. .
6. Quiz your relatives about their expectations of the GP: ‘Some patients just need reassurance, but others will want a prescription or a referral for an investigation to feel they are getting something tangible out of the consultation or to feel that they are being taken seriously,’ says Dr Syed. ‘Sometimes it helps if you are upfront about your expectations, otherwise the GP may miss the point and you will leave dissatisfied.’ .
7. Question your GP about your relative’s medical condition and where you can find out more: ‘If you want more information about your relative’s medical condition ask where you can find out more. The GP may be able to direct you to a good source on the internet such as Bupa.co.uk or some of the websites run by charities including Diabetes UK, The Alzheimer’s Society, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.’ .
8. Ask about how medication should be taken and any side-effects: ‘Most GPs should give you information about how to take the medicine, what the benefits are and what side-effects (if any) you can commonly expect – but if they don’t, ask. As a carer you have an important role in supporting the patient taking their medication and if you know they are getting side-effects, let the GP know as other medicines can be substituted in some cases. And don’t forget you can also ask a pharmacist for advice .
9. Choose a GP with the MRCGP qualification: There is a lot of information on the internet that can compare the quality of GP practices in your area. Most of this, however, is not in a form that would make much sense to ordinary people. One thing that is worth looking for is the MRCGP qualification. If your GP has this it shows they have met higher standards than those without the qualification and have become Members of the Royal College of General Practitioners. I’d also advise choosing a practice which teaches students as there is evidence that these practices do better in terms of quality.’ .
10. Avoid booking appointments on Mondays and Fridays:‘If your medical problem isn’t urgent try and avoid Mondays and Fridays as generally they tend to be the busiest days of the week as patients who’ve had symptoms over the weekend or during the working week ring for appointments. You might find it easier to get an appointment slot on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday instead.’
Have you found your own ways of dealing with GP appointments. Post your tips on communicating with GPs in the forum.
During Carers Week, Bupa medical experts, including GP Dr Mehmood Syed, will be on hand to take your questions.