Before setting out, gather information about the patient from their notes and from colleagues at the practice.
Check recent blood tests and clinic letters, and see if there are any QOF points that need chasing. Remember essential items such as a stethoscope, prescription pad, paperwork and numbers for emergency admissions.
Finding the property
Half the challenge is finding the address. I carry a Sat Nav and an A to Z but even so, navigating some estates is the stuff of nightmares.
Trust your instincts
Keep your wits about you in unfamiliar areas and trust your instincts if you start to feel unsafe. Don't trust dogs. To a possessive dog, the act of taking a BP reading can be grounds for an attack.
Get to know the patient
Seeing people in their own home often gives a good insight into their lives. Take note of anything unusual, such as cupboards full of unused medications, or surprises such as insulin stored in the bread bin. Sometimes a patient will be much more unwell than you expected.
Send for back-up
Don't panic in the event of an emergency. Be familiar with whatever emergency gear you choose to carry and do not be afraid to call 999. If you are not sure, ring your trainer for advice.
- By Dr Anna Greenham, a locum GP in Northumberland