Receptionists Training: Chinese Whispers


It is vital when you answer the telephone that you have a pen and paper ready to take down any information that might be important. Names/Dates/Important information.

You have no way of knowing when you answer the telephone exactly how long the call will be or what the conversation will be about. The last thing the caller needs is to have
to repeat the conversation again so you can take notes down. Always be PREPARED.

When you next have a staff meeting try this little “game” it is called CHINESE WHISPERS. I’m sure you have all heard of it – but try it – and it will show you just how
easy it is to forget information given to you or worse still write done the wrong information.

This “game” is best played with 4+ players.

You can adapt the story  around your company

No pens or paper are allowed.

The person carrying out the “game” remains in the room with one of the Receptionists.  The other Receptionists go outside the door and wait.

The person carrying out the “game” reads out the following statement to the 1st
Receptionist in the room:

Mrs White telephoned the surgery at 9.00 to request a visit for her   neighbour Mrs Brown who is 96 years of age.  Mrs White told the  Receptionist that she thought that Mrs Brown has a UTI and had tested her blood pressure which appears to be very high.

 Mrs White told the Receptionist that Mrs Brown lives at 96 O’Connell Street.

 The Practice has another Mrs Brown who lives at 69 O’Connell Avenue.

 Mrs White told the receptionist that Mrs Brown lives alone and is very hard of hearing. Mrs White said she would try to be there when the Doctor called, but if she wasn’t there the key would be left under the plant pot just outside the back door and would be ok to let himself in.

 The receptionist put the details into the visit book.

 The person in charge of the “game” only repeats the message once to the 1st Receptionist that is in the room with her. .

She then calls a 2nd Receptionist back into the Room.

The 1st Receptionist is then asked to repeat the message to the 2nd Receptionist. Remember it is completely from memory – no pens or paper allowed.

When the message has been repeated to the 2nd Receptionist the 3rd Receptionist is called in and the 2nd Receptionist is requested to repeat the message to her – and so on until the last Receptionist is called back into the room.

When everyone is sitting back in the room (and by this time chuckling at what they have all just heard) You get the last Receptionist to repeat the message only this time you write it down on a large piece of paper that everyone can see.

You will be amazed at how different the last message is from the first – more worrying there will be important information missing – wrong information given and even worse extra information put in.

It is a bit of harmless fun to have in a training session – but at the same time it highlights just how important it is to make sure that every message is taken CORRECTLY – the first time.

Discuss the different ways the message was changed from Receptionist to Receptionist. Highlight the areas of importance and the dangers if they were not included in the event that maybe the Receptionist didn’t have a pen and paper to hand.

Here are a few issues that could have could have caused the patient not to have the appropriate visit on time.

The age of the patient.  The age of the patient might be significant – she is 96 years of age. The young and the elderly can go downhill very quickly.

The fact that the patient had a possible UTI and Blood pressure. This should be flagged
up to the Doctor/nurse – The Dr might need to visit the patient sooner, or at least make sure that the patient is first on their visit list.

 Not there were two similar Names and addresses – easily mixed up if the Receptionist was going by memory alone resulting in the Doctor could have been sent to the wrong address.

The importance of telling the Doctor that is the carer was not there that a Key would be left – if this was not mentioned the Doctor would presume that no one was in – it has happened and the doctor has left the address.

And please remember the importance of getting a telephone number when someone phones to request a visit. Please obtain the number for the patient and the number of the person calling.

If you are writing down a call from memory quite often you get distracted by someone else and this is where you might write down wrong information.

And a very important point – Do not assume because there is a telephone number on the patient records that this is the correct one – people often change telephone providers and forget to inform their Surgery. It is always best to take it down and check that you have the
correct one on your records.

If you are ever in doubt – and not sure what you have been told always ring the patient / carer back and ask them to clarify your question.



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