After a busy consult this week, a mum of twins made a number of comments on how smooth the consult ran. I didn't quick understand as this is usually the way we did it. I've been thinking about it and thinking about what I used to do and how things have changed with the more kids I've seen, and the more families with multiples. I thought I'd put down then the 10 top tips. I ran it by a few mum's of multiples to make sure I haven't missed the mark and got a definite - YES!!!
1. Be kind- parents of multiples are doing it super tough, particularly if there is more kids in the family who are older or younger. They have outnumbered themselves. Some have help, some have none so this is particularly a time to be family centred.
2. Paperwork- does everything need to be doubled? Can they fill out your new patient form just once for both and you copy it in their system? Be pragmatic in the value you place on process.
3. History taking- do both at the same time. In essence a lot of it will be cut and paste from the birth history. then just tailor as you go along.
4. If you can’t juggle the challenges of lots of kids or handle noise - learn or don’t see twins. It’s not fair on parents to have to bring individual kids in unless it's their choice.
5. Be flexible. Sometimes you might need to focus on one child for that appointment, but then change to the other because more pressing needs have come up. Ask the parent which child has the stuff going on that is worrying them the most. Put the parents in the driver seat of the consult.
6. Have fun in your exam. Pick the bravest child and examine them first, or line them up and examine both at the same time. Scribble some notes as you go, as the kids will blend after they leave! Even easier, get some video (with permission)
7. Be really careful with your interventions. Does the family REALLY need everything you want to give- REALLY?? Everything is double the challenge for them so take care in how much extra you place on them. If you do have to give stuff, tailor your program. You have two kids, make them work together!! Strength work, make one push the other in a pram, if balance, let them hold each other up while standing on one foot. They will compete against each other their whole lives, don’t make your program competitive, make it a program where they help each other out.
8. WORK OUT A WAY TO REMEMBER THEIR NAMES. I get it, particularly when they are identical and dressed the same. Ask the parent for some tips and write it down. It matters!!! Please don’t put name labels on them in the consult unless the parent invites you too, don’t even suggest it. Instead you could tell the kids you have 4 feet to watch and get confused between lefts and rights, a stamp or sticker on the right foot will help you. Make it a different stamp or sticker and again - write it down so you can do it each time.
6. If you have reception staff, most of what they are doing can wait to help you or the parent/s out. You can also write your detailed notes later. Make your priority the whole consult to helping them out, offer to help out the door, to the car, carry stuff, be an extra hand to hold particular if you have a busy carpark. It’s such a small time commitment, but will be just one less thing in the day for the parent.
7. Tell them (and be genuine) they are doing a great job or just listen if it's tough. One is hard enough, two is ‘Woah!’ Don’t get me started on triplets.