Having a good team of health care providers to support you is important. Most chronic conditions require different support and expertise, and especially if you have multiple conditions. Your care team should consist of many health providers and support people. This team can include a GP, specialists, allied health such as dietitian, dentist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, and alternative health such as a chiropractor or osteopath. But it can also include sources of assistance such as doctor and nurse help lines and peer support groups.
The following chart is an example of a care team for someone who has Type 2 Diabetes.
GPs can take on the work as a manager of your care plan, but this role can also be spread across a few health professionals. A GP can address your concerns, promote better health, carry out health checks and blood tests, write prescriptions and refer to other health professionals including allied health and specialists. It is important that you find a GP who suits you and addresses your needs. Don’t expect them to know everything, but do expect them to listen to your concerns and be proactive.
There are many things to consider when choosing a health care professional, and making a list of desirable features might be of benefit – but this list might change over time.
What to consider:
- Location and public transport options
- Disability access and car spaces
- Emergency appointments available
- Affordability, is there bulk billing?
- Specialty, does this GP specialize or is willing to learn about your condition?
- Gender, would you prefer a woman?
- Availability of appointments
- Assessment on appointment – how long did you have to wait? Are the receptionists efficient and kind?
*It is important for your health care team to be inclusive of diversity. Having an inclusive health care team will benefit you as that means they are more likely to have an appreciation for and be open to different points of views. This will be helpful for finding a diagnosis and good treatment plan for you.
Factors to consider when looking for inclusive healthcare:
- Who are the other patients in the waiting room? Are they diverse, from different backgrounds?
- What do the staff look like? Are they diverse?
- Are there visible signs of diversity in the waiting room? Are there rainbow flags? Are there handouts and health information in different languages? Are there health promotion for different cultures such Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander?
- What kinds of questions are on the medical form? Is there a space for gender diverse people? Or different sexualities?
- Does the health provider listen to your point of view?
- Are there multiple types of payment options – for those that can’t afford to pay?
- Are there doctors that are bilingual? Or at least have an understanding and appreciation of different cultures and backgrounds?
Ask friends and family about their GPs and get their recommendations. Peer support groups may also provide comments and answer your questions about particular doctors.