“Circle of Care: Supporting Family Caregivers in BC” (2016) is a 36 page policy paper created by Doctors of BC (formerly the BC Medical Association) which reminds all BC doctors – family physicians and specialists – “…to recognize, include, and support family caregivers as partners in care”. Family Caregivers will know this is happening when:
1) doctors ask them if they are caring for an adult, and patients are asked if someone is providing non-medical care to them;
2) carers are involved in patient care – “…in a manner that respects a patient’s right to privacy”;
3) the health of FC is monitored; and
4) doctors provide information and support to caregivers.
The policy paper comes with an accompanying guide “Organizing Your Practice to Support Family Caregivers: A Toolkit for Doctors” that suggests ways health care providers can accomplish the four items listed above. As well, MDs also have a Note Sheet: “Community Resources for Family Caregivers in BC” and we are so pleased that FCBC is listed as an important resource for doctors to refer carers to for support, resource information and education.
Making the Most of Visits to The Doctor We tend to think about the experience of an appointment with a Family Doctor only from the patient and family caregiver perspective. It goes by in a flash and after it’s over you may or may not feel you were heard, understood and got what you needed. As in many situations, it helps to put the shoe on the other foot. Imagine being a doctor and seeing a wide range of patients every day. Every patient has their own reason for coming in. It may have been a long time since their last visit or you may never have seen them before. Clearly all parties involved face significant challenges and information sharing is very important.
In 2001, Dr. Donald Cegala wrote a booklet called “Communicating With Your Doctor”. In 2010 the booklet was modified for use by the Patient Voices Network supported by the BC Ministry of Health Services and the University of British Columbia Division of Health Care Communication. Highlights include: Effective communication between the patient and the physician can be accomplished by following the steps represented in the acronym PACE. As a family caregiver, you can play a big part in each of these steps:
P – present detailed information about how the patient is feeling.
A – ask questions if desired information is not provided.
C – check your understanding of information that is given to you.
E – express any concerns about the recommended treatment.
Present detailed information: Keep a log of facts regarding how the patient has been feeling e.g. symptoms dates, time of day, duration and relationship to activities, food, other medications, therapies, and stress.
Take a list of all prescribed medications and nonprescription vitamins, mineral and herbs including names, dosages and when/how taken.
Ask questions: What is the medical condition, how serious is it, will it affect normal activities, how long is the treatment regime, where can additional information be obtained, is there a support group? If tests or procedures are involved, what is the purpose, what are the risks, what is involved? If there are medications, what do they do, are there side effects, will it interact with other medications, how would you recognize a negative reaction, how long does it have to be taken, are there other options? If there are treatments such as therapy or diet, how should it be done and for how long, are there risks, what are the advantages, when will results be evident?
Check your understanding: Try one or all of these ways of checking – ask the doctor to repeat or clarify information that is unclear, repeat aloud what you heard the doctor say, summarize your understanding of what the doctor said. You could also ask the doctor if you can record the appointment.
Express concerns: If the patient has been on a course of treatment that has caused concerns, be honest in reporting the problems and willing to work with the doctor to find a solution.
- Before the appointment, write down the reasons for the visit in order of importance and what you and the patient want to accomplish. It helps to highlight any changes since the last visit if applicable.
- Be clear with the Doctor’s receptionist about the reason for the visit so the appropriate time slot can be allocated.
- If waiting is a concern, try to book the first or last appointment of the day and call before leaving home to see if the Doctor is on schedule.
- If you are seeing other Doctors or Health Care Providers, ask that copies of visit notes and test results be sent to your
- Ask for copies of visit notes and test results for your own records.
How do I find a family doctor?
The College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia maintains a directory to allow members of the public to search for doctors. As a part of this tool, you can select “Family Physicians”, and “Accepting new patients” to see which doctors in your area may have space available.
In some communities in the province, there are no family physicians currently accepting new patients into their practice. If a search returns zero results, try widening the search to include neighbouring or surrounding communities.
Note: Patients having difficulty finding a family physician who is accepting new patients may consider attending a walk-in clinic in their neighbourhood. According to College standards, physicians working in a walk-in clinic will be held responsible for offering any patient who doesn’t have a dedicated family physician longitudinal medical care, including the provision of appropriate periodic health examinations, regardless of how many times they attend the clinic.
Search the Directory HERE https://www.cpsbc.ca/physician_search