I’m Late, I’m Late for A Very Important Date



In today busy society meetings and training sessions are an every day event for most of us.

As Managers we have meetings with the Partners, we have meetings with outside agencies we then have to have meetings with our Heads of Departments and meetings with the Reception Teams.

We sometimes have to have meetings about meetings!!!! Or it seems like it.

As well as meetings we often have to attend or facilitate training sessions.

Whatever we might be attending be it a meeting or training session it all takes up valuable time and often we might have to attend these in our own time.

So, what annoys me more than anything is bad organisation of a meeting and bad timekeeping.

If you are responsible for organising a meeting session please give some thought to the following


  • Ensure the agenda is sent out well in advance and people attending have the opportunity of adding something to the agenda and giving them time to arrange the time to attend or sending their apologies if they cannot attend.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting

  • Ensure that everyone has been sent a copy of the minutes of the previous meeting to enable them to read before the meeting. Precious time can be lost if people have to read through the minutes of the last meeting before the meeting can actually start.

The Meeting

  • Ensure that the meeting room is set up read for the meeting to start. This includes

–       Relevant paperwork prepared

–       Room prepared as in tables and chairs set out / computers / overheads /   whiteboard / paper / stationary         

  • I have been at a meeting that should have started at 9.00 only to find that the room had to be set up – paperwork had to be photocopied and overheads set up. The actual meeting started at 9.30.
  • If you are not able to set up before the meeting on the day (ie early meeting) ensure that this is done the day before.

Start and Finish Times

  • You should always have a start and finish time for your meetings and keep to these times.
  • It is important that people know the times as they can plan around the meeting.
  • There is nothing worse than someone turning up late to a meeting or worse if the meeting is running late (due to it starting late) people start getting up and leaving as they have other commitments to attend to.
  • Out of respect you owe it to the people who do turn up on time that the meeting starts and finishes on time.

The same applies to any training session that you might be holding. The start and finish times are just every bit as important to the participant as the session itself.

I am attending a training session at the moment every Wednesday morning at the moment. The tutor on the very first session made it very plain that the sessions would start at 10.00 on the dot and not a minutes later – but also that they would finish at 12.00 on the dot. Everyone knew exactly where they stood and five weeks in not one person has turned up late – and we have all finished on time to. It is such a breath of fresh air to know that we would not be sitting around waiting on the “latecomers” arriving.  We were also asked on that very first session that our mobile phones would have to be switched off during the sessions. Everyone was happy to go along with this.

Yet another course I have recently finished was completely different – people would role in 10 minutes late, to the point one didn’t even had the decency to apologise for being late. Mobile phones would regularly ring during the session and people would go out to answer their calls.  These things disrupted the class as the tutor would then re run what she had gone through with us. This was frustrating as we would have all liked to have had a bit more time at home in the morning, but we agreed to attend the training session, fully aware of the starting and finishing times.

Resentment started setting in amongst some of the group – little digs were given about timekeeping but the tutor wasn’t strong enough to enforce the times – and by this time the sessions had been going for some weeks.

Nothing is more annoying that bad timekeeping.

So, if there are regular meetings, or a training session that might be running over a period of weeks I would suggest that you make it very clear on the very first meeting or session that time keeping is important, and you will start the meeting or the training session at the given time and you would appreciate that everyone turns up on time (of course there are always the exceptions but notice of this would be appreciated). Also that mobile phones are switched off whilst the meeting/session is running.

Always give a contact number or email address to your group in the event that they are not coming, that way you can start the session fully aware that they are not going to be there.

You certainly will find that if everyone knows this from the start and you will not abide latecomers that everyone will arrive on time.

Respect should be given to those that turn up on time.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Dealing With The Bereaved

How does your staff  handle people when they come into the surgery that have recently been bereaved?

  • Do 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?
  • Are 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 you have notification 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 lost my dad 2 years ago. As you can imagine it was the most awful time and on top of our shock and sadness we had to get everything sorted out and we had to visit and telephone so 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  person that we dealt with to be compassionate, extremely helpful, and very understanding. They all had a policy in place to deal with a death. They had appropriate forms, they all knew exactly what they had to do. 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 the most unhelpful,   and she 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. I found my dad being called “the deceased” the most upsetting thing ever. I wanted to scream he is my dad and he has a name! But I just didn’t have it in me to speak up. I was exhausted. 

This particular person was really not very helpful – her attitude was uncaring and to to point of almost being rude in fact she made me feel very uncomfortable. She even sighed at one point when I asked a question that I was not sure about. 

It’s sad but when I think of all the people we dealt with over the 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.

Make sure you are never that 1% that sticks in someones mind – for all the wrong reasons.

See previous blogs:

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

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


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved