Getting the most out of appointments
To get the most out of any appointment with a health care professional, there are a few things you can do both in advance and on the day:
- write a list of questions and put them in order of importance
- make sure you ask the most important questions first
- try to stay focused on your MS or particular symptoms you are dealing with
- if there’s a lot to cover, try and book a double appointment so that you have a little extra time
- take a partner, family member or friend who can act as a second set of ears, take notes and prompt you if you forget anything
- keep a diary of your symptoms and other MS-related experiences. Take it with you appointments so you everyone can keep track of your MS
Medical terminology can be daunting. Don’t be afraid to ask for things to be repeated if they are unclear, and ask for any terms you don't understand to be explained.
If you are not happy with your care you can always ask for a second opinion.
Between appointments you can get advice, support and information from the NHS on:
- 111 if you live in England or Scotland
- 0845 46 47 if you live in Wales
In Northern Ireland you can call your doctors surgery for the out of hours service.
Treatment plans and care packages
When you see any health care specialist for the first time, they will assess the particular symptoms they have been asked to treat.
They will then develop a treatment plan.
In some areas overall ‘care packages’ are developed for people with many symptoms to manage. This is done after an assessment of your needs by the members of your multidisciplinary team.
A written care plan will include:
- who is involved in your health care
- treatments and therapies
- details of anything else you need to stay in good health
Everyone involved in treating you, including doctors, nurses, therapists, and sometimes social workers, should work with you to follow the plan.
These care plans can be particularly useful if you’re finding the care you receive from the NHS are disjointed or confusing.
If you don't have a care plan, but feel you'd benefit from one, ask your GP, MS nurse or therapist.
Monitoring and review
Health care professionals should monitor and review your situation on a regular basis.
They must make sure any new developments in your MS are recorded and dealt with in your treatment programme.
You can ask to be reassessed at any time if you feel it is needed.
If you have a care plan, it should be regularly reviewed. Ideally this will involve the various members of your multidisciplinary team. Each health care professional will bring their own expertise and understanding of your situation.
However, this style of team working is not always provided. That does not mean reviews by a single health care professional are not of value – they will still ensure your personal situation is checked and, if required, medications are changed and referrals made.
If you don’t feel you’re getting the care you’re entitled to, you can make a complaint.