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Attending A & E

Get the most from your visit to A & E

A&E (700 × 400px)

Have a companion with you

Waiting times can be long in the Emergency Department. When you’re attending A&E, it’s helpful to have someone with you to keep you company. They can provide support and help keep you comfortable as you wait to be seen. 

  • If you can, bring a friend or family member with you or have them meet you at the Emergency Department.
  • A trusted companion may be able to speak up for you, to ask questions, to make requests, if you don't feel up to doing so yourself.
  • Waiting times can be long at A&E.  Being with someone who cares about you at this difficult time can help you feel supported and help keep you calm while you wait. 
  • Often there's a temptation to leave the A&E without being seen.  But research shows that those who are accompanied are more likely to stay to be seen and this improves outcomes. 
  • One person is permitted to accompany you into the Examination Room, if this is something you wish.

Request Privacy

A&E can be a very busy environment.  You may have to tell your story to a number of people – a receptionist, a triage nurse and clinicians. Understandably, it may be distressing to disclose personal and sensitive information in this way.  

  • Ask for a quiet / private / safe space for your assessment.  This may not always be possible, but it’s okay to ask.  Privacy is a reasonable request.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable asking yourself, this is a benefit of having a companion.  They can ask on your behalf.
  • Space limitations in A&E may mean a quiet room isn't feasible, but there are other ways privacy can be respected.
  • A&E can sometimes be noisy and is often busy, so flagging the need for sensitivity and privacy is a gentle reminder that where space is at a premium, privacy can still be respected.
  • If you’re finding it difficult to talk about the way you feel, let them know. This will help them understand and they may be able to prompt you. 

Ensure you leave with a follow-up care plan

On discharge, you should be given a clear idea of what to do next.  This may be a formal plan or it could be recommendations such as a referral to talk-therapy or to psychiatric services, guidance on self-care or lifestyle changes or other recommendations. 

You can take the following steps to ensure you leave with a plan:

  • Ask for a follow-up care plan.  Again, if you don’t feel able to ask, this is where having a companion is helpful. They can ask on your behalf.
  • If there is no formalised care plan, ask what are the “next steps” for you to take on discharge from A&E.
  • Where no follow-up care advice is available, ask (or have your companion ask) what should you do as a next step to getting well.
    • Do they recommend or will they refer you Counselling – HSE or private / subsidised?
    • Will they refer you on to other mental health services within the HSE or privately?
    • Do they recommend you book an appointment with Pieta or Aware or another voluntary support service
  • Where family members are in a carer role, family should be provided with a care plan and advice on what to do in the event of another crisis situation. If none is forthcoming, you or your companion should request this prior to discharge.
  • What should you do if you feel like this again?  Who should you contact?  What steps should you take to keep safe?
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