What is a formal Chaperone?

Why are chaperones important?

The apparent intimate nature of many clinical interventions if not practiced in a sensitive and respectful manner, can lead to misinterpretation and occasionally, allegations of abuse.  Not understanding the cultural background of some patients can also lead to confusion and misunderstanding with some patients.

The role of the chaperone is to:

  • Act as an advocate for the patient
  • Be an impartial observer
  • Help explain the procedure to the patient
  • Assess whether the patient understands what they have been told
  • Help to avoid any misunderstandings or false accusations that could occur

In order to be an effective ‘formal’ chaperone, the person must:

  • Be a clinical health professional (i.e registered nurse), OR a specifically trained non-clinical member of staff
  • Have an understanding of the procedure
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Respect the patient’s dignity and confidentiality

Why use chaperones?

  • Their presence gives extra protection for the doctor
  • It acknowledges the patient’s vulnerability
  • They provide emotional comfort and reassurance
  • If they are appropriately trained, they can assist with the examination or undressing and redressing the patient if appropriate

A patient may attend with an ‘informal’ chaperone, ie a friend, relative or carer, however, in certain circumstances a ‘formal’ chaperone will also be offered.

If you wish to have a chaperone present during your consultation/examination with the doctor please ask at reception or make the doctor aware when you are called in.

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