Stroke Recovery Association of BC

Recovering from a Stroke

Communicating with Service Providers

  • Keep your diary or notebook handy
  • Be patient. Finding the right answer or person may take time
  • Be sure you are speaking to the person who can give you the answer you need
  • Be prepared. Write down your questions before speaking with them
  • Put your questions in order of importance so the urgent ones are answered first
  • Be sure the person has time to speak with you before you start your conversation
  • Be very clear and concise
  • Never apologize for asking for help
  • Speak up…never assume others know what you need

Unanswered calls

  • Ask when the person is taking calls and call them back at that time
  • Ask for a phone appointment so the person will be available to speak to you without interruption
  • Ask to speak to a supervisor or administrator
  • Always have messages read back to you to make sure they are right
  • Double check the number you are calling – you may not know a service has moved or changed phone numbers
  • Phone first thing in the morning or right after lunch
  • Use voice mail if available

Not getting the information you need

  • Offer to accompany the person to the appointment or make one for yourself – discuss your caregiving concerns in person
  • Stay calm, but insist on getting the answers you need. It is the service provider’s job to answer questions or direct you to someone who can
  • If one person doesn’t give you what you need, look elsewhere and don’t feel guilty. You have the right to every available option
  • Remember: as an active caregiver you are the expert in your caregiving situation and an important part of the team. It is important for you to understand all you can

Tips for a caregiver communicating with healthcare professionals

  • Be sure the doctor understands your role. If your loved one is not willing or able to take instruction, make sure the doctor tells you all important information.
  • Articulate the practical side of your situation to help the professionals make practical suggestions you can use. (Example: “It’s better for my job if we can come early in the morning.”)
  • Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition. Use the Internet as a tool, but stick with reliable sources that the physician will respect. Don’t take in stacks of printouts. Organize your questions about the information you’ve read and be concise. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but try to be specific. Especially ask what to watch for that would indicate an emergency situation for your loved one.
  • Keep records of your loved one’s behavior — habits such as sleeping, eating and emotional episodes, symptoms, medication habits, etc. The more detailed information you have, the easier it is for your doctor to give your loved one the best treatment.
  • Take time to make decisions about care. If it means having to wait a few days and it’s not life-threatening, tell the doctor you need some time to discuss with your loved one or your family.
  • Appoint one family member as the main contact with healthcare professionals when possible. This will avoid confusion and save time for the doctors and nurses. The appointed person can clearly communicate all information and necessary decisions to be made with the rest of the family.
  • Hold conversations in appropriate places — not waiting rooms or corridors. You deserve to have the full attention of the doctor and the privacy that you will find in a room or office.
  • Ask about other resources. The doctor’s staff can often point you to support groups, suggest help in paying for medications, in-home care and other things that you need as a caregiver.
  • Write it down. Have everything that’s on your mind written down before you arrive. Once you’re there, you might forget and start rambling. The more organized you are, the more help you can get.
  • Ask for a consultation appointment if you’ve got a lot of questions. That way the doctor will be prepared to sit down with you and talk for an extended time.
  • Understand the limits. The doctor can’t answer some questions, especially those beginning with the word “why” or those that deal with your family problems.
  • Separate your anger and sense of frustration about not being able to help your loved one from your feelings about the doctor. Remember, you and the doctor are on the same side.
  • Feel free to change. If you feel that the doctor is just not a good fit — either professionally or emotionally — ask to see a different doctor in the group or seek out another place of care.
  • Be appreciative. Don’t forget to thank the doctor for all that he or she is doing. A little kindness and recognition goes a long way.