Being sent home after a stroke can cause mixed emotions for patients and caretakers alike. On the one hand, you are happy to return to your surroundings. On the other hand, you might feel anxious about the next steps. People often feel abandoned by the healthcare system once they leave their rehabilitation centers. And, therefore, they are unsure about what to do next. For many patients, this feeling stems from a lack of information, not knowing what is expected or possible, insufficient rehabilitation, and the lack of knowledge about support services. Lucky for you, a group of experts are aware of this problem and have come up with a way to help you be more proactive in your rehabilitation.
Aiming to help patients ask the right questions
An international panel came up with a checklist to help identify post-stroke problems and to help professionals find the appropriate support services for patients. Basically, this checklist guides patients and caregivers in asking the right questions to get the care and services they need. By listing issues that deal with common problems after stroke, the checklist helps patients define the obstacles they still might be facing and helps them understand where they can expect help. This patient-centered approach structures stroke reviews, making them more productive.
The experts gave the checklist to patients, physicians, and caretakers to see what they thought. After receiving feedback, the team adjusted the original 11-item list to a 15-item stroke review checklist that can be used to identify and address the patient’s needs.
How the right questions can lead to the right care
How can a checklist help you? First, it can make your appointment more efficient by helping you address your concerns within the allotted appointment time. It also improves communication by helping patients focus their questions. In fact, many patients even reported feeling more satisfied with their interaction with their physicians because they felt like they got the answers they needed. And doctors felt they were better able to address the patients’ needs in a shorter amount of time.
A little preparation goes a long way
The bottom line is… prepare for your appointment. Using a checklist like this can help you identify your own needs, organize your questions, and structure your thoughts in a way that your healthcare provider can understand. It’s then easier for your healthcare provider to get you the appropriate information and care. Before you go to your next appointment, take a minute to prepare. Look at the checklist and write down your questions. Investing a little time beforehand can help you get the most out of your appointment.
The lead author of this study is Grace M. Turner from the Institute for Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.