How to introduce Choice?

What we actually say to services users when we first meet them can be a neglected area of service development. We forget how new it is to them and how many assumptions we make and don’t explain. We feel it’s helpful for a team to agree a set of phrases or ideas that should be communicated. Not as restrictive as a specific script but more a set of guideline phrases or ideas.

Stance

It’s important to make the person feel welcome and active and to set a clear context for the session. This can be done from the very first moments they have contact with your service e.g. in the explanation the referrer gives them about you, in the letter inviting them to book in and in the leaflet you have sent. The aim is to emphasise that they have some choice in what they want and that the work is a partnership between us and them, not a one-way street. Your language should reflect this where possible e.g. ‘work together’ not ‘treat’, ‘help you choose’ not ‘tell you’ and ‘share our thoughts’ not ‘give an opinion’ .

Helpful Phrases

Here are some phrases that clinicians have used:

Opening

Setting the Scene

Explaining what will happen

Next steps

An example introduction

“Hi I’m David XXX. I’m a XXX. We call today a Choice appointment. It is a one-off appointment and the aim is for us to meet together and by the end make a choice with you about what you think will be helpful. Some people find that today’s appointment is enough to get them back on track and that they don’t want another appointment [people nod in agreement here] or we might find that you really need another agency or service and we’ll help you get in contact with them or we might decide together that coming back to this service is the best idea. If you do decide to come back we will think with you about the goals you want and choose a clinician that has the right skills to meet these goals [people nod in agreement here too]. Then at the end of this appointment I will go and find our Partnership diary and book you in for that clinician so you will leave with the next appointment booked”.

Then explain about confidentiality and that you will summarise the issues in writing and send this to them, their referrer and others that are relevant.