Flu or Flu-like illness in chronically ill or disabled children

Communicating with health professionals

When a child with a long-term medical condition or disability gets a high temperature or starts to seem ill parents want to be able to consult health professionals quickly and get the right treatment. During an episode of flu or flu-like illness parents appreciated healthcare professionals who listened to them, trusted their knowledge and experience, and saw them as ‘experts’ in their child’s state of health.
Parents who had had several years of experience of coping with their child’s long-term condition said they ‘just knew’ when something was wrong. When health professionals recognised and trusted the views of parents and involved them in decision making it made for good relations. Several parents said that they tried to remain polite to health professionals who often seemed very busy and under pressure, but Clare said she’d learned to ‘stick to her guns’ when she knew her child was getting ill. 

Communication with health professionals could also break down when doctors gave the impression they had not read the child’s medical notes properly. Being asked to explain again and again about their child’s medical background was frustrating for parents who were keen to get treatment started.
When parents felt that health professionals were judging or stereotyping them it affected communication. Though many parents came to work well with members of their child’s health care team, some said they had the impression that doctors felt they were overly-concerned or worrying too much. Parents told us about occasions when their worries or concerns had been justified. Michelle said, “People misconstrue someone who’s worrying as being aggressive and they’re not, they’re just scared.”
The hard work and professionalism of hospital nurses was often mentioned by parents whose children had spent time in hospital. As well as being seen as kind and caring, nurses were also often thought to be good at explaining things. Some nurses had helped them get answers to their questions, others were supportive and really looked out for their child.
See ‘Messages to health professionals’.

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