Talking To Professionals About Your Child
If you have concerns about your child’s health and wellbeing take time to decide what would be the best way to get the help they need;
- What is making you worried? Can friends or family help? Is there reliable advice online?
- Who else could help you with this? GP, School, Health visitor or another professional?
- Find out how you get in touch with them to start with. Phone, email or online?
If you are not sure where to get the help you need get in touch with your GP / school they may know what help is available. You can call our Just One Number service on 0300 300 0123 to talk though your concerns.
Once you have decided where to go to get the help you need to make the first contact. Some people find this easy others might feel stressed and worried.
You might decide to get in touch by email in first place or their may be an online self refer / get in touch form.
- Take your time and make sure you get your main points across. If some of the detail feels too personal to put in writing- keep it brief, explain you will give more information when you speak to someone.
- Get a friend to read it through if you feel that would help.
- If your child is older check out with them if there is anything they want you to say or feel they want help with.
- Make sure you include all of your contact details so that they can respond to you.
If you are already working with other professionals you can give their details too, if that seems appropriate.
Do not worry about spellings or the words you use – you are getting help for your child and it does not matter how you get your concerns across.
When you are talking to professionals on the phone or face to face - it is easy to get a bit flustered and forget what you want to say.
- Write down the points you want to get across. You might just write a few words or you might decide to write a ‘script’ of what you want to say.
- It is okay to tell the person you are talking to you have a list and to use it. You can say ‘I really want to be sure I tell you as much as I can so I have written it down’. Professionals are used to this.
- You might worry that you won’t remember what they say. You can have someone with you (put the phone on speaker if you are on the phone). Or you can write notes. Tell the person you are speaking to if you need them to repeat anything.
- Tell the person you are talking to if you don’t understand something– they will be used to this and it is important that you get the information you need.
- Check what the next steps will be for them and for you ‘So I am going to take Johnny to the GP and you are going to ask his teachers if they have noticed anything different in his behaviour – when will I hear back from you?’
Once your child has found the right support it is really helpful if parents and carers can update the team on how things are at home.
- Ask for contact details and how and when you should get in touch. You may be asked to get in touch regularly by phone or email.
- If there is a big gap between contacts keep a list / diary of how things are for your child. What seems to help and what seems to make things more difficult?
- You are in the best position to notice patterns and this is really useful for professionals to work out how best to help your child.
- Make a note of any questions you think of between contacts so you don’t forget.
- Talk to your child and help them share their thoughts and feelings with professionals too.
- Let the team know of any changes in your child’s life that you think might be affecting them.
If the problem is not improving or seems to be getting worse let professionals know.
You might not always get the response you want straight away. Sometimes there can be misunderstandings and disagreements between different professionals and / or between parents and professionals.
You might feel you have not got your point across or been understood. This can be frustrating and upsetting. You might feel that your child is not getting the treatment / care / support you feel they need.
- If you feel the situation is an emergency do not give up – for example if you feel your child is seriously ill and a GP disagrees – tell them that you still feel worried. If they are not able to reassure you, or you feel your child needs more urgent care you might decide to see another doctor, or take your child to A&E. Trust your instincts.
- If the issue is more long term you might decide to take a break from the conversation then try again. If you have not had the response your feel child needs it can help to write down your concerns. You could take this to your next appointment, email or send as a letter.
It can stir up a lot of emotions when you are trying to get the help your child needs, or you do not feel a professional understands your point of view. You might feel tearful and / or angry. Explain that you are finding the conversation difficult. Professionals know that parents and carers want the best for their children and meetings can be hard.
Take deep, slow breaths in and out and try and stay calm. Do not worry if you show you are upset, this is important to you. However if you are aggressive or abusive professionals will have to end the conversation.
If you feel your feelings are getting in the way of you explaining your worries about your child ask for a short break, if this is not possible you can arrange to talk again soon.
If you do not feel your child’s needs have been met or you have been treated unfairly you can ask to speak to another member of the team.
- You can ask the professional you are meeting with to get their manager to contact you.
- Phone the service later and ask to speak to a manager.
- School and/ or health service websites will give you information of how to raise any concerns or comments you have about the care you have received.
It is hard when you are not happy with the support offered. Professionals should work with you to resolve any differences. The best interests of your child should always come first. When parents and professionals work together it is easier to provide the help your child needs.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.