Did Not Attend

It’s been a frustrating couple of days at work—six out of the seven children I booked in ‘did not attend’ (DNA). I call families the day before their appointments, and try to see them at a Children’s Centre rather than the clinic, if it’s closer to home, but this obviously isn’t enough—I think it’s time for something radical!

My partner suggested I double book appointments—invite two children to every appointment, on the assumption that one won’t come. I think that’s a bit too radical! But what about ‘over booking’ appointments? At the moment I book appointments in one hour slots. I think this is the norm where I work. It gives me time to write the notes, sort out the therapy room, get a cup of tea etc., between clients.

When I talk about ‘over booking’, I envisage booking in ten children, at 30 minute intervals. Here are my calculations.

Appointments generally last 40 minutes, but I’d book the appointments in half-hour slots. There’d be two one hour slots, which would allow me ‘catch up’ time. So, if all ten children came (which with current form, seems highly unlikely!) four children would be seen on time, four would be seen ten minutes late and two would have to wait 20 minutes for their appointment. More realistically, 50% come, I see five children, do a good day’s work and stop getting so grumpy.

(For clarity: I’d use the following appointment times: 9.30 am, 10.00 am, 10.30 am, 11.30 am, 12 noon, 1.30 pm, 2.00 pm, 2.30 pm, 3.30 pm and 4.00 pm.)

Perhaps I’d be able to ‘reward’ good attenders, by giving them particular slots so they’d be seen on time. Do you think a system like this would be feasible? Have you tried anything similar? What are the pitfalls?

I know I need to investigate why people are not bringing their children to speech and language therapy appointments. Maybe I’ll do a telephone survey, but I find it hard to ask people why they DNA’d without sounding cross! Something to work on then!