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Getting ready for appointments - Things to think about

Telling us what matters to you, preparing for your appointment, and asking the right questions will make all the difference to the care you receive.

The doctor, nurse or healthcare professional is an expert in the options for your treatment, but you are the expert when it comes to you, your life goals, and what matters to you. Knowing more about you and what matters to you can help doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals give you the best advice and care – such as going ahead with surgery or choosing a different treatment option.

Here are some things for you to think about before your appointment.

It's OK to Ask questions and things to think about before your appointment

You can download this 'It's OK to Ask' form here, to fill in before your appointment.

Things to think about and questions to ask about your health and care:

By asking questions about your care you can make sure:
• Your individual needs are prioritised.
• You understand the benefits and risks of the different options.
• You can make a choice that suits you best.

Before your appointment
Many appointments are now being carried out over the telephone or online. If this is difficult for you, please tell the team arranging your appointment.

It might be helpful to think about:
What is my main concern?
What do I want to achieve from my appointment?
Why is this important to me?

During your appointment
By the end of your appointment you should know the answers to these questions:
What are my options?
What are the benefits and risks of each option for me?
What happens next?
Who do I contact if I have questions after I leave?
Where can I go to get more information?

After your appointment
You might want to discuss your options with friends and family.
It's ok to change your mind.
It's ok to go back to your healthcare professional to ask more questions or explain anything you didn't understand.
Keep a note of any questions ready for your next appointment.
It's ok to ask a pharmacist or other health professional if you are confused about prescriptions.

Don’t forget:
Make a list of your current medications.
Think about whether you want to bring someone with you to your appointment.

Remember you can always ask the healthcare professional to explain things differently, explain things again, or to write down information for you.

You can download these 'It's OK to Ask' notes and have space to write your thoughts on a ready-prepared form, here.

Here is another useful guide, from NHS England, which you might find useful, too. You can download a copy of this leaflet here, if you like.

What else do I need to tell you?

We want a record of the things which you feel are important for us to know about - your needs, your strengths, what matters to you, your concerns and your preferences. It provides an easy way of knowing what really matters to you, and you can take it with you as you move through services and have contact with different people. Find out more about this, and useful leaflets, here.

We also have forms if you are going into hospital to say what matters to you, or to help you say what you need if you have autism.