Call the doctor ... Finding a doctor you like and trust can take time, but it's worth it.
CHOICE has a free report that offers general advice on choosing a GP. It points out a few things you might want to consider, such as location, opening hours, home visits, GP gender, specialties, and billing options - you can read the full report on the CHOICE website.
In regards to choosing a doctor for your children, however, there are some extra points to consider. The following is courtesy of CHOICE consumer health writer Karina Bray:
- Ask the nurses/midwives at your early childhood centre for local recommendations. Friends, neighbours, daycare staff, etc, are other potential sources of information.
- A local clinic is good because they can have a good sense of what's 'going around' the area.
- Make sure the GP offers open clinic times as well as set appointments. You can't choose when your child gets sick!
- Some GPs have links with an after-hours service at a local hospital - as above, you can't choose when child gets sick. These links are good because if you use the service they can communicate back with your child's GP and it's automatically added to your child's history.
- The bigger bulk billing clinics ('medical supermarkets') with lots of different doctors can actually be a good option - even if you end up seeing different doctors each time, at least your history is in the one place. These clinics are also more likely to be open after hours and at weekends than smaller practices.
- Most kiddie health problems are fairly common and easily dealt with, though they do seem to get things adults don't often get, so some experience with kids' problems is a good thing. Some GPs get further qualifications in paediatrics and can be called a 'GP with a special interest' (or GPwSI, pronounced 'gypsy').
First aid courses
When it comes to first aid, any of the major first aid training organisations are worth checking out: some well-known classes include the 'Caring For Kids' training course offered by St John Ambulance, and the Australian Red Cross course 'Emergency First Aid for Parents'. These courses provide first aid training with a focus on caring for infants and children.
It's also a good idea to make sure your home's first aid kit is fully stocked. This is what CHOICE regards as essential items:
- At least nine sterile, cotton-gauze swabs, for cleaning wounds and placing over non-adherent burn dressings.
- At least three disposable hand towels or tissues, for general cleaning, other than wounds.
- 24 sterile, adhesive dressing strips in assorted widths, to cover small cuts, blisters and abrasions.
- One roll of low-allergenic adhesive strapping, at least 25mm wide x 2.5m long, to hold dressings in place.
- Two sterile, individually packed, non-adhesive dry dressings, 100 x 100mm, to use for burns, abrasions, cuts, lacerations and weeping wounds.
- Three sterile wound dressings of different sizes, to protect wounds, use as an eyepad, or help control bleeding by applying pressure.
- Three rolls of stretch bandage, 50, 75 and 100mm wide and at least 1.5m long (and stretchable to twice that length), to hold dressings in place, support injured limbs or give first aid for poisonous bites.
- Two triangular calico bandages with at least 900 mm edge length each, to use as slings or dressings, or as bandages to hold large dressings or splints in place.
- At least five safety pins about 40mm long, to hold bandages in place.
- One pair of rust-resistant scissors about 100mm long, with at least one blunt point, to cut dressings and bandages, or to cut away clothing.
- One pair of rust-resistant, pointed forceps, with accurately aligned tips and in a protective case, for removing splinters and stings.
- One pencil and notepad, to record times and details or for passing messages.
- At least three sealable plastic bags, about 150 x 200mm, for carrying water, making ice packs, disposing of dirty dressings or carrying severed body parts.
- Disposable latex gloves and an approved resuscitation mask, for infection control.
- First aid information: books are available from St John Ambulance Australia, the Australian Red Cross and other expert ambulance services.
Visit the CHOICE website to learn what they suggest as optional items for your first aid kit, and for more information on family health.