Newly published guidance (1) to improve how children and young people (CYP) experience healthcare is welcomed by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD). Drafted by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the guidance, entitled ‘Babies, Children and Young People's Experience of Healthcare’, is designed to ensure the preferences and feelings of young patients are consistently central to their treatment.
This approach is already espoused by BSPD, whose members have researched and published systematic reviews (2) highlighting the importance of making the voice of the child central to research and put children and young people in control of their dental treatment (3).
The NICE guidance covers issues such as safeguarding, disabilities, consent, shared decision-making and sets out that healthcare staff should communicate with:
- Kindness, compassion and respect
- Cultural sensitivity
- A non-judgemental attitude
It is aimed at commissioners and providers of healthcare who now have a responsibility to apply the guidance where appropriate. It should also be read by non-clinical staff, such as receptionists.
Professor Paul Ashley, a member of BSPD as well as the NICE committee which drafted the guidance, said, “Children have a right to express their views on decisions affecting them. This guidance shows how listening to and treating children and young people with the respect and dignity they deserve can lead to better care.”
“Poor healthcare experiences increase likelihood of unmet healthcare need among CYP, which could mean worse health outcomes in adult life. Positive experiences of healthcare also plays an important part in health equality, ensuring that every contact counts to build up trust.”
He added, “Paediatric dentists are already adept at tuning in to their patients needs and wishes. This has become more challenging since the pandemic with remote check-ins replacing face-to-face care. Familiarity with dental clinics is fundamental to allow children and young people to develop confidence and trust in our services.”