Training principle of the month 4: Patients and families are heard

This month, Dr Lia Davies has worked with the College's Children and Young People's Engagement team, or RCPCH &Us, to consider how to effectively listen to patients and their families, and how you can facilitate the right conversations.
RCPCH Progress+ Training principle of the month
Last modified
10 January 2022

From children and young people

The following two videos, created by our Children and Young People Carer representatives, offer fantastic advice on how you can ensure that patients and families are heard.

Could you incorporate more of the advice on engagement from children and young people into your practice? 

We want to ensure that our forgotten voices become involved


Several young people, a parent and our Assistant Registrar share why engagement matters. One young person reminds us to be bold, proactive and compassionate, and another details her three-point plan for checking accessibility. Plus specific ideas on checking for safeguarding issues, signposting to resources and looking at different ways to connect to primary care.

The next video gives some tips - from making sure patients have all the information in a format that works for them to working with schools and hospital youth forums.

Understanding how asthma affects a child's life - case study

Training level: All levels

Setting: Outpatients

What prompted the change? On the daily ward round, after seeing a number of children with exacerbation of asthma, trainees felt they wanted to understand more about how asthma impacts a child’s life. 

What happened? Trainees organised time with the children’s asthma nurse. This included a teaching session and attending asthma clinics. During these multidisciplinary clinics, discussions were had focusing on the child’s and the families’ questions, such as answering questions about the condition and discussing the impact it has on their life. 

How did this support training and trainees? These experiences gave trainees the opportunity to see how conditions affect children and their families and what about their conditions concerns them. They were also able to explore how they can help with the burden which certain conditions can put on children. Trainees could think about the questions to ask young people about the effects of a child’s illness and bring them to the centre.

Any practical tips? The College produced an example health diary that can be given to young people before their appointment, prompting them to think about what they want from clinicians.

Asking a child about their preferences when admitted to hospital - case study

Children and young people appreciate it when doctors and healthcare practitioners take a real interest in them as people first and foremost

Anne - RCPCH&Us Parent Carer  

Training level:  All levels

Setting: Inpatient paediatric ward

What prompted the change? Being admitted to hospital can be a stressful and upsetting time for any young person. As clinicians we need to think about how we can make this experience easier for the child by working with them and their parents.

What happened? Trainees looked at the admission paperwork for inpatients with other members of the team, including nurses. Questions were incorporated to include a section on the child’s preferences, for example, what makes them happy or sad, what helps them feel comfortable? These were then used when admitting children to gain additional information to be kept in their notes.

How did this support training and trainees? This allowed trainees to help let children and their families take the lead and inform health care professionals as to how to we can improve children’s experiences. It allowed trainees to explore and learn more about the impact of an inpatient admission on children and young people.

Any practical tips? Think about different ways children can express how they feel. The use of images to allow children to express themselves in a different way is particularly important if they cannot always find the appropriate words. See the College's popular emoji cards and resources produced by care-experienced children and young people such as games to share how they're feeling.

Dr Lia Davies is an ST2 trainee and is the KSS regional representative on the RCPCH Trainee Network.

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