Before your appointment
Before you attend your appointment, it is helpful to think about the questions you want to ask and what is most important to you about how you live your life. (For example, this might be things like being able to get back to work, being able to do simple jobs around the home or being able to look after someone else). It can be helpful to make a list to take to your appointment.
Three questions you might want to ask are:
- What are my options?
- What are the possible benefits and risks of those options?
- What help do I need to make my decision?
If there is someone that you would like to take to your appointment, and if this is allowed, you might find this helpful.
Going into hospital can be a worrying time for anyone. But it can be particularly worrying and stressful for someone with a learning disability. See the NHS guidance to support you.
At your appointment
If your appointment is to discuss the possibility of an operation or treatment, the healthcare professional you are seeing will talk to you about:
- How your condition is affecting your life and what matters to you
- What any tests, examinations or investigations about your condition have found
- The possible benefits of having an operation for you
- What risks there might be for you from having the operation
- How your operation would be carried out and whether you might need to stay overnight
- How long it might take you to recover and what you might need to do as part of your recovery. For example, attending appointments to have your dressings changed.
- Whether there are any activities that you won’t be able to do for a while afterwards, for example certain kinds of work, household tasks like cleaning or doing the laundry, or driving
- What alternatives to having an operation there might be for you
- What would be likely to happen if you don’t have any treatment
Your healthcare professional will also talk to you about how long you might have to wait for your operation and the things you can do to stay as well as possible while you are waiting.
It is ok to ask questions. Your healthcare professional wants you to have all the information you need to help you to decide what the best plan and right treatment is for you. They will also take the time to make sure that you have understood all the information they have given you.
It is your right to be involved as much or as little as you would like to be in decisions about your health and what treatment is right for you.
You do not need to decide at your appointment. If you need more time to think about your options or to discuss these with family and friends, it is ok to ask for this.
Making a plan for your care
When you and your healthcare professional have made a plan for your care and treatment, your healthcare professional will share this with you and your GP. Sometimes this might be in a letter or sometimes it might be a written or electronic plan. Your plan or letter should include information about:
- How your health condition is affecting your life and what really matters to you
- What you and your health care professional have jointly decided is the best treatment option for you
- If you are waiting for an operation or procedure, the things you can do to stay as well as possible while you are waiting
- What you can do to prepare for your operation
- Who to contact if you have any questions, you want to let someone know about a change in your health or you would like to change something in the plan you made with your health care professional