Aims Rates of emergency admissions and emergency attendances for children have been increasing since 2003/2004,with the greatest increase in the 0–4 year age group. Resolving this will have significant financial benefits as an emergency admission can cost up to five times that of a primary care attendance. One study suggests that ‘parents went to A&E because they believed the clinical problem was best dealt with there’. This would support a behavioural influence that this pilot would aim to identify through the collection of insights from parents of children aged 0–4 years.
Methodology Insights for this study were collected from 36 parents at 5 Children Centres. Utilising Care Cards enabled a discussion about the emotional priorities of the individual. The methodology has recently been supported by the Department of Health in a study to demonstrate the values and behaviours of the National Health Service constitution. Each session lasted approximately 1 h, parents answered question 1 individually:
‘What is important to you when you use health services with your child?’
Their top priority was captured on screen using Turning Point 2008 before elaborating on this, answering questions 2 and 3:
‘What would a service look like to meet these needs and what are the barriers to having this quality experience currently?’
‘What/who makes your decision where to go?’
The statements of the parents were entered into NVivo qualitative analysis software and coded for thematic content.
Results 27% of parents felt ‘understanding’ was their most important priority when they used health services. The most common themes were that parents seeking services for their children are looking for reassurance and an accurate understanding of the problem to ensure the safety of their child. In deciding where to go for services, the ability to access services without difficulty or delay was important. Many current barriers were identified by parents to produce clear recommendations.
Conclusions This small, rapid insight study identified several issues that are important for parents in their use of health services. One notable recommendation is that parents need to be made more aware of the services offered and need clear consistent messages right from the front door. It demonstrates a way of measuring parental experiences to help ensure we as clinicians are delivering quality care.