Supporting The Receptionist


 

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I recently held a training session for a group of new Receptionists. They ranged from being in their current posts from 6 weeks through to 6 months.

I particularly enjoy New Receptionists Training. I love the group participation and the eagerness to learn more about the role of the Receptionist. Each person came from a different organisation but all have the same goal, wanting to do their job to the best of their ability.

And they can only achieve their best by being trained to do so. You as employer, a manager team leader or fellow Receptionist owe it to any new members to the team and help them to achieve that ultimate goal. You also owe it to you patients and customers by having well-trained staff.

I try to make they training session interesting, including ice breakers and lots of team participation. One of the exercises we did was “What would you have found useful in your role when you first started ”. This question raised a lot of answers, and we had a great discussion around each one.

Some feedback to the question included:

  • More training – especially around confidentiality
  • Knowing who does what in the organisation (staff list and their main roles)
  • Days and hours of staff working at the organisation.
  • Up to date telephone list.
  • Knowing the 999 policy
  • More training on the phone system
  • Emergency procedure for Reception
  • Disability awareness – especially wheelchair users.
  • Knowing what staff are in and out of the building
  • How to deal with a difficult caller
  • Who to report to when the Receptionist has a query (some were still confused on who to report to)
  • Need for more policies and procedures for the Reception area
  • Daily/weekly checklist for new Receptionists.

We discussed all of the above in great detail. Many of the group had no idea of their emergency procedures. Some didn’t know if their reception area had a panic button and some spoke of having a difficult caller and admitted that they found this really difficult to deal with. 75% of the group didn’t know that their “fancy” Reception desk was in fact a desk designed for people with a disability and everyone agreed that they would have found a daily/weekly checklist helpful when they first started, thus reducing the amount of time they had to keep asking other members of the team.

Many admitted that they felt uncomfortable dealing with people with a disability, the fear of getting it wrong and upsetting the person, and because of that fear they felt that they didn’t approach the person in the way that they deserved.

Some of the group said that they felt inadequate having to keep asking over and over again what to do. Some simply were left to find out everything themselves and others felt that they have been given great support. A mixture but every single one of them all said that they felt regular ongoing training was important.

Receiving feedback after the course brought some of the following comments:

  • Training is very beneficial
  • Understanding the importance of team building
  • Dealing with difficult people at the front desk and over the telephone.
  • The importance of confidentiality in the workplace.
  • Feeling confident and being able to ask if they were not sure
  • Felt more confident after the session
  • Knowing that a lot of what they are doing they are doing right.

I asked what training they would feel would benefit them further in their role and the feedback was

  • Confidentiality
  • Disability Awareness
  • Telephone Skills
  • Dealing With Difficult Situations in Reception.

Do you have regular contact with new Receptionists? Do you have any idea if they are struggling with any aspects of their role?

I always met with a new Receptionist after they had been in the job a week, then I would meet with them after a month, and again at 3 months. The meeting was a 2 way process – for them to understand what we expected from them, and to find out if we could do anything for them to support them in their role and to identify training needs.

Signposting – Have you got it right?


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I accompanied an elderly friend to the hospital yesterday. She had to go to see the neurologist.

I went with her as a friend but to also support her as she is in a lot of pain and finding walking difficult.

Parking as in most hospitals was pretty awful; we were lucky to find a space and then made our way into the hospital with plenty of time before her appointment was due. We entered the large outpatients department and found that they had completely reorganised the main area. There used to be an information desk, this now replaced by a super new coffee shop.

There was no sign to direct us to the neurology department so I stopped and asked two maintenance men who were deep in conversation propping up the door. One of them told us we had to follow the corridor to the end through the double doors and turn right, into the new part of the building. So off we went.

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We went through the double doors, and there were no signs of our destination. So I asked another member of staff, she sent us back the way we had come, and once again we ended up somewhere that certainly wasn’t neurology.

I then asked a 3rd person who actually told us truthfully that they had no idea where it was, by this point my friend was starting to struggle with her walking, I sat her down and asked a 4thperson. This member of staff asked me to follow her and she took me directly to the department which was situated right beside the two maintenance men who were still there chatting. I went back and collected my friend and we made our way back to check in.

We waited at the empty reception desk, still not confident that we were in the right department, and the time was fast coming up to her appointment,my friend started getting anxious as she does not like to be late.

The Receptionist finally arrived, apologised for keeping us waiting and asked her name. Thank goodness we were in fact in the right place – more by chance I might like to add.

I asked the Receptionist why there was a lack of signposting and she told me that there were several outpatients clinics held there on a daily/weekly basis and they would be unable to list them all, and often they change to other parts of the department.

So, Hospitals, large GP Surgeries and Health Clinics please ensure that your signposting is user-friendly and if for some reason if have not got a help desk, or you cannot put up the correct signs, please think of putting directions on the appointment letters, and perhaps appropriate training for staff in how to deal with patients/visitors when they are asking for directions. If staff are not fully confident that they know where the departments are, then tell the patient that, please don’t send them on a wild goose chase like we were yesterday.

Large buildings that have lack of signposting can often be confusing to the elderly and the disabled.

Cancer Care At Its Best


 

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I have a friend that has recently be diagnosed with cancer and she is facing many weeks of chemo. Her hair is falling out, and she has got those dreaded mouth ulcers amongst other things. But through this she is staying positive and I must say she is pretty amazing.

What keeps her so positive?

It’s the support she has from her family and friends. But that’s not all, she has shared with me the support she has received from everyone involved in her treatment and the care she has received has just been incredible, she has found every single person caring for her in the NHS just amazing.

From the Receptionists at her doctor’s surgery, to the doctors and nurses, hospital transport and volunteers at the hospital she has found every single one of them helpful and informative.

It’s not just the treatment that plays a big part in someone getting better and staying positive, it’s a lot to do with they support that they received from every single healthcare professional that is involved in their care.

Being a Medical Receptionist is more than customer service, its patient care at its best.

You could make someone’s treatment just that little bit more bearable in the way that you deal with them when they visit your surgery.

Always treat someone they way you would want to be treated.

Disposing of confidential information / Staff Training


I have just read an article about a NHS hospital that has had medical records of several patients found “blowing around in the street”

here is the link

http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Frenchay-Hospital-patients-records-street-40/story-20843243-detail/story.html

This story brings my thoughts back to a time in the surgery when I arrived at work early one morning to find several torn up pieces of paper littering the car park around the back of the surgery building.

On investigating what it was I was mortified to see that the litter contained  patient information – by sheer luck it was a wet day and the information was wet and had fact stuck fast to the ground and it was in torn up pieces – but I could still identify some patient information. I searched the grounds and by sheer luck there was only a few pieces that I found – I went over to the bin area and found that the lid to the bin had blown up, the bin was in fact full and the contents had blown out. The bin contained more patient information.

I made sure that every bit of patient information was removed from the bin and brought back inside and I investigated straight away why that information had found its way into the bins.

I discovered what had happened. We had a new member of staff join the Reception team the day before. She was working the late shift with one other Receptionist and the new Receptionist had not been shown where the confidential waste was to go so she disposed of the information in the normal office bin. The older serving Receptionist had printed off the next days surgeries (this was always done in case of a power cut and we would at least have a list of patients due into surgery the next day) That day’s list would then be destroyed.

There were numerous large marked containers around the surgery for all confidentiality waste to go into. The Receptionist gave the lists to the new Receptionist “thinking” the new Receptionist would know where it had to go – the new Receptionist had never worked in medical field before and had no idea of confidentiality and what it really meant,  something that we all take for granted.

Our cleaners were also excellent and if they were ever in doubt about putting something in the normal bins they would ask someone. This particular day we had another cleaner covering as our usual one was on holiday.

A team includes everyone even the cleaners. In my experience including the cleaners in certain training sessions and keeping them updated with certain changes in the Surgery definitely helps in many way.

I completed an incident report form and I discussed this with staff at our next Team Meeting.

A big error made and we were completely at fault. This incident highlighted we cannot take anything for granted, especially when it come to new staff – training is vital, and so in ongoing training for older serving members of the team, and if you employ cleaners perhaps they should be included in confidentiality training, and if you have contract cleaners ensure that they are fully aware of confidentiality. It might save a lot of problems if something like this should happen.

I have recently completed confidentiality training to a organisation (not healthcare) and used this incident in the training sessions  - several people over the two courses admitted that they didn’t destroy customer confidential information and just put it in the normal bins and agreed they would all be shredding all their confidential information from now on.

2. DNA – The Reception Team Member


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Referring back to my blog on DNA appointments I received a lovely reply from a Reception Team Member who works for a surgery that has approx 25,000 patients.

She too spoke of the frustration that DNA appointments can cause on a daily basis. She now had a system in place at the end of the day where she gets her team to first checks who made the appointment, and whether the patient has already booked. The team approach the patient in a positive manner (ie not guns blazing) as she agreed there could be an error on the surgery in not cancelling the appointment. People will also respond better when someone is approaching them in a positive manner.

The team asks the patients why they DNA their appointment, and in many cases they are extremely sorry for missing their appointments.

I think this is an excellent exercise as it can flag up several issues

  • It can let the patient know you are monitoring the appointments system – especially for those patients that just have not “bothered” to cancel their appointment.
  • It could flag up that patients perhaps are cancelling their appointments and they are not being cancelled on the system
  • Are appointments being booked too far in advance (ie 6 monthly BP checks, or diabetics checks – if so how could your surgery best deal with this.
  • Could highlight the importance of giving out appointment cards whenever possible.
  • Could highlight those few that are constantly not turning up for appointments.

When speaking to the patients regarding their DNA try to get the reasons why in a positive way and look at ways of improving the amount of DNA’s that your surgery has.

What would be helpful would be when you are talking to the patients if it is the first time you speak to them about their DNA you could explain that you are trying to look at the amount of DNA’s and at ways of decreasing these and their feedback on why they DNA would help with this exercise. Explain if patients cancel their unwanted appointments then this will free up appointments for other patients – which could be them. This was it will turn the telephone conversation into a positive one instead of a negative one.

But I am sure getting a phone call regarding a DNA will certainly get a patient thinking more carefully next time if they simply do not want the appointment and hopefully they will phone to cancel the appointment.

Thank you for your feedback and hopefully this will help other surgeries in dealing with their DNA’s.