Our GIDS clinic in Leeds is piloting a new way of supporting young people and their families through telephone consultations.
When children under ten are added to our Leeds waiting list, we are offering the option of speaking with a clinician on the telephone in the first instance.
The children on the pilot get to speak with a clinician earlier than their first in-person appointment. These calls offer a supportive introduction to the service. They provide current information about our service and the approach we usually take with younger children. This enables younger children and their families to think about when might be the right time to come for a face-to-face appointment at GIDS. We treat every young person who visits our service individually on a case-by case basis, with no preference or expectation for what the right outcome might be for any individual.
This telephone pilot does not delay their wait for a first in-person appointment, but is an additional means of support while they are waiting. Earlier support can be of real assistance to families looking for help to understand and manage the situation. Not having to travel for these consultations also benefits the young person and their family.
The phone appointments are with the clinician who is scheduled to see them for their in-person appointment, which can make the visit for their first appointment less stressful.
The needs of younger children experiencing distress around their gender identity are different to those who are older and may be starting puberty. This new consultation allows younger children and their families to decide together whether they need to come for a face-to-face appointment as early as possible, or whether the phone consultation in combination with other types of support, perhaps more local to them, is the better option for them for the time being. This may have the effect of reducing the waiting times to be seen for face-to-face appointments for those young people closer to puberty.
Feedback from young people and their families has been extremely positive so far. A family on the pilot said: “We like the way that we can access support from GIDS via the telephone, which saves time on travel and time out of work. We have had some really good advice, and I feel reassured that further support will be available when our child needs it in the future.”
We are now starting a formal service user review for families who have received calls.
Polly Carmichael, Director of GIDS, says: “We are always thinking of new ways to support the young people who are waiting to be seen by our service. After an evaluation of this pilot, we hope to provide this swifter form of support more broadly.”