Continuity of Care: What it means to me

Continuity of care is important in all areas of health care but in mental health care it, to me at least, is more important. However it is something that I have found to be lacking. Here I talk about my experiences and what I think is important about continuity of care.

For the first time in years I will be seeing the same psychiatrist for more than one appointment. For the past three years each time I have attended an appointment it has been a different psychiatrist resulting in a lack of continuity of care. This, I believe, has led to missed opportunities and my life being a mess for longer than necessary. Now I know a lot of people will think this is an exaggeration but to me it feels as if I have lost out. This includes losing out on referrals for therapy as each time someone has said they will refer me they have left the service before doing my referral, leading to a gap in my care. Also changes to medication have been slower at being implemented as generally each new psychiatrist has wanted to wait until the next appointment before changing my dosage and/or medication. This leads to months and years of not having the correct treatment all because of a lack of continuity.

Another impact that a lack of continuity of care has is that I do not get to build a relationship with a professional and therefore each time I find myself starting over with a new person wondering if they will be around for the next appointment. This means I have to explain my history over and over again to new doctors who have not had a chance to read my notes. This includes traumatic events that I do not wish to relive constantly. I also have to remember which medications I have tried (which is a growing list) and how they have or have not worked for me.

Continuity of care would hopefully eliminate a lot of the reliving of traumatic events and the endless list of medicines. It would hopefully lead to a more concise and helpful treatment plan that could be reviewed at each appointment by the same doctor. It would also mean I could build up a relationship and trust the professional I am seeing. To me continuity of care is important.

I hope that most of you do not have to relate to this post as that would mean you are receiving continuity of care which is a good thing. I know continuity of care can have a negative side if you do not get on with your health professional but on the whole I believe it to be a positive thing. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

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