Improving emotional support offered by fertility clinics

By Sarah Banks

IVF can be a really tough thing to go through, physically and emotionally, and the emotional support you receive from your clinic is just as important as the medical care

My core mission is to improve the emotional experience of IVF for patients. I strongly believe that people who are having to go through fertility treatment deserve to have a positive and supportive experience.

To help me ensure clinics are delivering emotional care that patients need and want, I have been running a survey with fertility patients.

I want to hear your thoughts

I wanted to hear directly from the patients in my various support communities about how they felt going through treatment, the emotional care and support they received, things that their clinic did well or could improve on, and what they would love to tell their fertility doctor if they could be completely honest with them.

I offer bespoke coaching and training to staff in clinics, and I create long term relationships with clinics to develop and implement support strategies, so I wanted to make sure that I am training and delivering on things that really matter to patients, the things they are telling me on a daily basis.

I am in a very privileged position to be told people’s deepest fears and emotions, their anxieties and worries around treatment and their future life, and I also get to celebrate in their amazing highs of positive results and the birth of their children.

I take that responsibility very seriously and want to make sure I am acting as their voice in fertility clinics, helping them get the support they desperately want and need.

The initial feedback is already showing some interesting results:

– Respondents rated the support they have received from clinics as an average of 4.9 out of 10. 17 per cent rated the support at two or under.

– 63 per cent of respondents felt that their clinic doesn’t have a culture of support that is followed by all members of staff.

– 73 per cent would like to see better links to support services, and 66 per cent would like their clinic to have a support group they can access.

– A lot of the feedback has been about wanting to be treated as a person rather than a number.

Here are some of the comment responses from the survey

“Please don’t treat me like one of the herd. Realise that this is horrifically painful. Realise that this is impacting on every single part of our lives – jobs, relationships, family and friends. They’re the ones who hold the keys the next available door, so don’t make each stage about barriers.”

“We know that you see this day in and day out but for us this is totally alien and all very new to us. Please take this into account when speaking to patients and don’t assume prior knowledge or make comparisons.”

“Little details like our main nurse remembered our names each time. They held hope with us and when our cycle failed they were genuinely sad with us. Always prepared to speak on the phone when we had worries or questions”

“Listen more, make more time for your patients. We are all different and feel different things at different times. It may be easy for you reading off what our follicle sizes and womb lining is but each one of those words means so much. I Know your busy and over stretched but just treat us like a friend and not a number. I know I do with my patients even it’s just holding their hand when I know they are scared.”

This research shows how tough infertility and treatment can be. When going through treatment patients spend a lot of time at their clinic, and control of their fertility is taken out of their hands and in to those of their consultant.

Unfortunately, it can be a long road to achieving your dream of having a baby, and it’s important that the time you spend with your clinic is positive and supportive, and that you feel comfortable with the treatment you are having.

Patients often feel overwhelmed and out of control

You want to know that you have put your future happiness in the right hands

Clinics need to understand how patients really feel and how they would like to be treated and supported through their time with them. Medical care isn’t the same for everyone, so why should emotional support be?

The more responses I get to my survey, the more compelling and relevant the results are in showing clinics how patients would like to be supported emotionally.

I’d really appreciate you taking a few minutes to complete the survey and improve the support for everyone going through fertility treatment, thank you.

Click here to go to the survey website

If you would like more support and to talk to others in a similar situation you are more than welcome to join my free Facebook support group TTC Support UK.

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