Everyone communicates in some way or form. No matter how big or small the gesture is to move forward, the communication needs to be reciprocated – it is this part where we know that someone is listening to us and that they care. Children and young people specifically, are at a time in their life where they are striving to be accepted as young adults rather than children and face many different challenges during this transition of life. When a health problem interferes, this isn’t exactly helpful or wanted. I know I would have preferred to be playing with friends.
I went through a lot of health care professionals that hadn’t mastered how to communicate well and whilst it didn’t help me to progress physically, the stagnated progress also upset me and affected my mood negatively. It was essential for me to engage in my health care, but in order to engage and get the most out of treatment, I needed effective communication! This is something the Me first model gives the frame work for.
I struck gold and I now have an amazing paediatrician who displays good practice continuously. My consultant has children and young people’s values embedded in every aspect of her, allowing both her and the patient to get the most out of every patient interaction. She follows each key step of Me first without even realising.
- How do I know that you are going to listen to me? She runs through what we’re going to cover so I can prepare myself for the conversation. I also get the decision of how independent I want to be e.g. how much I want family present in the meeting. The choice is mine!
- Why am I here? We discuss what I’ve been doing in my spare time, how my life has been and then how my health has been. I’m not just a health condition, I am a whole person!
- What are my choices? We then talk about what both I, and my consultant thinks could help me to improve and look at the options, jointly debating the pros and cons of each option.
- How do you know what is important to me? Together, we look at what I want, why, and how it will fit in with my life. After all, I am the one living my life and I know myself best.
- What decision have we made? This is the part of the consultation where we check that we both agree with what is going to happen and who it involves on the route to get there.
- What will happen next? I will summarise the conversation to check we both understood each other. Then after clinic is over, I am emailed a typed summary to remind me of the conversation.
The framework set out by Me first is so simple yet can make all the difference to a young person. I personally know seeing my paediatrician carry this out with the appropriate body language, made me realise that she is trying to help me, she is listening and she really cares. Feeling an equal to her empowers me to take control and make decisions in my health care, it motivates me to engage to the optimum level and work collaboratively to achieve the best possible outcomes. This empowerment and motivation is all down to communication, and that is why it is essential that health care professionals embrace Me first.
Member of NHS England’s Youth Forum
Member of Young CDC