Get the most from your visit to A & E
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.
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?