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How not to Shame Parents

See those lovely Mountain views of mine?

My lovely Mountain view is blanketed in Bushfire smoke

I don’t either.

That’s how bad the smoke is now, and my thoughts are with all those affected.

I’ve had to get my stethoscope out to monitor my youngest who is teetering on the edge of an ED presentation for asthma symptoms. It’s mostly due to a cold she picked up, but that smoke isn’t helping.

Not all parents are as lucky as us

After chatting with a friend who also has a child with viral-induced asthma the other day, I’ve come to realise just how lucky I am to know exactly when it is time to go in.

The last time her daughter went to the hospital, she got in trouble for not presenting sooner.

Her biggest worry?

That she would get in trouble for coming when it wasn’t necessary.

When we engage with parents in this way, we undermine their innate ability to recognise when something isn’t right and cause them to second guess themselves.

We create fear.

Fear that they cannot look after their child properly

Fear of coming in

Fear of not coming in

Fear of the healthcare staff

FEAR…

Improving parental confidence

The recent conversation with my friend made me think about how, for us, it seems obvious when to present to ED and when not to.

I think it’s important that we find the sweet spot of educating a parent – with compassion and kindness- to empower them to recognise when a presentation is necessary and to put off an unnecessary presentation OR divert their presentation to the GP.

Improving a parent’s confidence in their ability to manage their child’s medical condition doesn’t have to be hard. It’s about developing a relationship built on mutual respect.

So, here’s a couple of my own tips for empowering parents who need that little bit of a confidence boost:

1.    Welcome them with a smile regardless

2.    Check your tone of voice and body language when chatting with them

3.    Acknowledge what they’ve already done for their child that is good. (Build them up!)

4.    Build on their current knowledge by focussing on what they haven’t demonstrated that they know. For example, they gave Ventolin but didn’t check if it eased the child’s respiratory effort and respond to their symptoms

5.    Arm them with information to refer back to. You could provide them with a phone triage service for example or refer them to charities or organisations that focus on their child’s medical condition and can further support them when the acute phase is over.

Ultimately, I’d much rather have an unsure parent present than an unsure parent leaving it too late so making them feel welcome is key.

How can you help a parent to feel more empowered and confident in the management of their child today?

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