Dealing With The Bereaved


  • Does your staff have training on dealing with patients that have recently been bereaved? Remember good trained staff are confident staff.
  • Do you have a protocol on dealing with bereaved patients? Do you notify your Receptionists when a patient dies or do you just leave it for them to find out?
  • Are you confident in the way that your staff deals with patients that come into the surgery that had just recently lost a loved one?
  • Is your staff compassionate? Are they helpful to those patients suffering a loss?
  • Do you notify your Doctors / District Nurses / Health Visitors other appropriate healthcare professionals when a patient dies?

It really does make a huge difference when dealing with someone who has recently been bereaved.

I can hear you saying that your staff are compassionate with all your patients – but they really need to have a “bit extra time” for those that have recently been bereaved.

True Story

I recently have lost someone very close to me and had to visit and telephone many different organisations such as Hospitals, Funeral Directors, Banks, Solicitors, Florists, Utility companies, Pension agencies, Council,  ……..  the list went on and on.

I found that 99% of every single person that I dealt with to be compassionate, extremely helpful, and very understanding. They all had a policy in place to deal with a death. It really did help so much when we understandably upset confused and exhausted.

Every single one of them did as much as they could, and explained in full what would or had to be done. I cannot tell you how much stress this took off us as the family when dealing with so many agencies.

Unfortunately it was that 1% that one person that was most unhelpful, and was the only person that kept referring to my dad as the “deceased” unlike every other single person that referred to him by his name. That I found the most upsetting.

This particular person was really not very helpful – in fact she made me feel very uncomfortable.

It’s sad but when I think of all the people we dealt with over the past 2 weeks it is always the 1% – the one that was NOT helpful, NOT compassionate and NOT very understanding that comes to the front of my mind.

What a shame that had to happen. That 1% had to spoil it all.

I ask myself did she not have the right training; did she in fact have any training at all in dealing with such a delicate matter? Was she the right person to be dealing with such matters? She might be an excellent worker – but was she the right person to be dealing with customers?

So, when someone comes into your reception (especially the elderly) that has just lost a loved one, remember this, they will be extremely upset, confused, tired, and your surgery might be the umpteen place that they have been to visit that day or week.

So a little bit of compassion and a bit of time from your Receptionist will certainly help the patient in a big way.

See previous blogs:

1.    Special Needs Board http://t.co/wnWKmxHV

2.    When a Patient Dies http://t.co/qUBcbEsB

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2 thoughts on “Dealing With The Bereaved

  1. Yet again… There has never ever been any mention of or training on this one! Many of our patients are elderly and death is a daily occurrence for us at the surgery.

    The day after reading this someone came in to collect the Death Cert for their mum. I did not know her, and to tell the truth nothing about her mum, (the patient) rang any bells with me at all. We went through the formalities at the desk… signing the book etc, but as I handed her the form I said, ‘and please accept our sympathies at the loss of your mum’ (or something like that). Up till then she had been very quiet and straight faced, but she gave a little start, looked at me gratefully and said, ‘thank you so much!’ She then said a little about her mum before leaving. All I was required to do was listen.

    I was so glad I had said that. It wasn’t much, but for her it was enough, and I could see it meant a great deal.

    That’s one of the things I love about the role… Just that chance to make a little difference for good to someone’s life on a particular moment in a particular day. Makes it all worthwhile… Even on crap days!!

    • I am sure that the lady that came into your surgery really did appreciate your kind words. They dont take a lot to do but can often mean so very much to someone. Believe me this woman that you showed such kindness will never forget you for this – sign of a truly wonderful Receptionist. Well done

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