Treat People With Respect

I had a friend contact me this morning in quite a state. Her son who lives over 200 miles from her was sent hospital by his GP last night with head pain, high temp and bad stomach pains. His white cell count was elevated and he had to have a CT scan. She phoned the ward first thing this morning and was met with the most “unhelpful” clerk.  My friend said she was in fact pretty rude to her and it upset her and because of that she didn’t really get much information from the clerk at all.

She has spoken to her son via his mobile and has got as much information as she could. As you can imagine she was out of her mind with worry and getting someone who was really unhelpful has not helped her at all. She asked what she should do.

I did explain that although there is no excuse for someone being rude, the clerk was probably being careful to what she was disclosing to her over the phone – patient confidentiality. I suggested that she get her son to speak to the ward sister and give permission (if he was happy to) that they could pass on information to his mum.  She confirmed that her son had in fact said it was ok to share information with his mum.

I then suggested that she phone back again, and if the clerk were to be rude again that she should challenge her – ask her why she was being unhelpful or rude if that were to be the case – often if you challenge someone they realise that their attitude is not right – and then change it. If she found that the clerk was still not being helpful then she should ask to speak to someone else that could perhaps answer her questions.

Staff that are dealing with anxious family members should do with care and courtesy, I know my friend and she is nothing but gentle and pleasant, she did not deserve to be spoken to in this way.

Staff should have training on customer care – and how to deal with people in person but especially over the telephone. They have to realise that like my friend they are phoning to enquire about loved ones and are worried.  The clerk might be the first person they speak to and they deserve a bit of courtesy.

She did phone back and spoke to someone a bit more helpful. A password was set up – this would be put on her son’s notes and every time she phones she will be asked for the password and then get the information she needs to ensure that her son is doing well.

It’s a shame that she wasn’t given this option the first time she phoned. It certainly would have saved her a lot of unnecessary worry.

I ask myself – how would that ward clerk have felt if she had been in my friends shoes and had been spoken to like that!


Always treat people the way you would expect to be treated.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

A Degree in Filing


Filing was every single Receptionists (and managers nightmare). Scanning is the new filing now and that sometimes can get just as behind.

No one enjoyed filing – it was always left, not being done blamed on shortage of staff due to sickness or holidays. Not enough hours in the day and so on…………

Every so often one of the doctors would come into my office complaining on the state of the filing. Of course the longer it got left, the harder the job became and it just became a vicious circle.

Then at the surgery we had a Receptionist leave. She worked 6 hours every day so I decided to replace her hours with a Receptionist that worked 4 hours per day and I was going to create a new role for a filing clerk 2 hours every day. I was worth a go – the filing had to be done.

I decided that we would have the filing clerk working 4-6 pm every day. She (or he) would do nothing but filing for 2 hours. The other Receptionists were over the moon with the new proposal – but on the understanding that they were still at times expected to help out with the filing.

Some of the GP’s wondered if this would work, they asked who on earth would want to come in for 2 hours every evening at 4.00 to do filing – but they agreed that if I felt it would work I should give it a go.

I advertised the position and was just overwhelmed with the response that I received – far more applications than I did for the Receptionists position that I advertised at the same time.

I went through the many application letters and CV’s.

I received letters that showed they really were not interested in the position and that they were probably just applying for the position so they could tell the job centre that they were “applying for jobs”. I received letters from teenagers still at school looking for a part-time job. I received letters from students looking for temporary work until they went on to university. I received letters from mums at home looking for some part-time work, and I received a letter from a lady with a degree who had a vast amount of qualifications and experience.

I whittled the numerous applications down to a sensible number. I carefully chose some from each group, an unemployed person, a 18-year-old student, a local mum and the lady with the degree. For some reason something was telling me that I should interview her.

As I usually did with every interview I let the Staff Partner have a look at the applications. He came back to me with some comment on the forms and the form of the lady with the degree he had written –  I don’t feel that this position is not for her.

I still felt for some reason that I should interview her.  Part of me wondering why she had applied for this position – no qualifications required yet she had a degree, and what really could be seen as a boring job to a lot of people.

So, I made my list for interview and included my “degree lady”.

I arranged for the people to come in for interview.

The person that was on the dole didn’t show up, didn’t even phone to cancel the appointment – nothing – not a word from. Sadly this did happen a lot. Even those that often appear to have the qualifications for the position.

The student that came told me they would not be able to made certain nights due to a course they were taking – so in fact the position was advertised for 5 evenings a week and the were telling me they could do 4 evenings a week. Errr not what we wanted at all.

The mum was very eager for the position, but told me that she might have problems actually getting to the surgery for 4.00, as she would have to wait until her husband came in from work before she could leave. The times could have been adjusted slightly but I felt she was not right for the job.

One lady came along for the interview and I realised that I knew her – not very well, but I did know her – and she seemed to think because of that the job was her’s!

I also interviewed another couple of people who I felt could have fitted in just right with the team, and do the job.

Everyone at the interview was told that the role would be filing for 2 hours every night and at times it could get pretty boring – but they all understood and still wanted to be considered.

Then last of the interview was the “degree lady”

She was lovely. She had a vast amount of experience and her CV just blew me away.

I had to ask the question “why do you want a job that is just filing for 2 hours every day”

Her reply was  her previous jobs had not been without stresses and strains. Recently bereaved it made her look at her life and decided she wanted to make changes. She decided this was the time for her to retire from her previous job. She had grandchildren she wanted to spend more time with. But she also wanted to still have a purpose to get out every day; to be with people and for her the job and the hours were just perfect. She actually said she felt she would enjoy the filing.

She was truthful, and a really lovely woman.

So, much to the surprise of the GP’s and the Reception Team I hired the “degree lady”. There were a few that doubted that she would last – why would someone like her just want to file for 2 hours every day. Some even said she would not last the week.

The “degree lady” started the following Monday. What a delight she was. She soon was very much part of the team, was loved by everyone and was excellent at her job and had the filing up to date and in order in just no time.

She was extremely helpful and in no time was actually helping out in Reception, and soon became a bank Receptionist for us – coming in to cover for sickness and holidays. But she never gave up on her filing hours. She loved the job.

For me she was one of the most successful applicants I ever employed.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved


The Sunshine Patient



Working on the front desk as a Receptionist you deal with thousands of patients over the years. But there are those few patients that will always stay in your mind for different reasons. If I think back to the many lovely patients I use to deal with one that automatically springs to mind is Andrew (I have changed his name for this story).

Let me tell you about Andrew and how he used to lighten up my day when he came into the surgery. He was like a ray of sunshine.

Andrew used to come in on a fairly regular basis with his Dad. Andrew was 25 years old and had Downs Syndrome.

It was just Andrew and his Dad – on getting to know them more I found out that sadly Andrew’s mum had died in their house due to Carbon monoxide poisoning. Andrew and his dad were extremely lucky to pull through – but it was so obvious how they missed their wife and mum.

When I first started dealing with Andrew and his Dad on the front desk it was always his dad that made the appointments, did the talking and insisted on going into see the doctor with Andrew.

The doctor that Andrew (and his dad) used to see on a regular basis was concerned that Andrew was not being allowed to be more independent and do more for himself – but the Doctor also identified that this was mainly down to Andrew’s dad not wanting to “let go”. Andrew was all he had in the world. But at the same time it was not fair to Andrew he was being held back.

After some months getting to know Andrew and his Dad Andrew started to really come out of himself and would chat away at the front desk to me he would joke and laugh with me. I always got a great big beam from him when he came into Reception.

Andrew would happily tell me about his day – what they had done that morning and what there were going to do that afternoon. I always looked forward to his visits and the stories he had to tell.

Then Andrew starting to hold the conversation more every time he came in. Andrew even started to book his next appointment by himself and actually started going in to see the doctor on his own. I seen Andrew grow with such confidence. The doctor that Andrew was seeing was extremely supportive and understood Andrews needs so well.

When Andrew was in with the doctor one morning his dad was chatting to me at the desk. He opened up to his fears about Andrew, and confessed that he actually felt that he was holding Andrew back, but Andrew was all he had.  He confessed that he had even put a block on Andrew attending a day centre as he didn’t want to let go. I felt so sorry for his dad and for Andrew too. His main fear was that Andrew would die and he would be left with no one. The love he had for Andrew was amazing but he was holding him back.

Andrew continued to flourish and he even got a bit bold at times – in a nice way. The cheeky chap even tried to chap me up for his dad once and asked if I would go to their house for fish and chips that Friday night – it was all in good fun and he understood that I couldn’t go as I had to get home to my two girls.

Andrew’s confidence continued to grow, with the help of the GP his dad finally agreed that Andrew could go to a day centre – Andrew just loved it there. His eyes would sparkle when he told me about his days there and the friends that he had made.

But his dad’s fears of loosing Andrew never went away.

Life continued in the surgery and Andrew and his Dad’s visit became less frequent. Andrew was becoming much more independent and loved his days at the centre.

Then one Monday morning I was checking through the out of hours reports and to my horror seen that there had been a death at their address – Andrew’s dad had died of a massive heart attack.

I never got to see Andrew again – and never knew what happened to him, but one thing for sure I know that wherever he went he would have brightened up their days just like he had done to mine whenever he came into the surgery.

I would like to think that the independence that Andrew gained over the years would have given him some strength to get through the loss of his Dad.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved