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.