Walk in my shoes – would you treat me any differently.

A moving short clip from you tube from Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Any one of us could be one of the people in this film. We have and will be patients and loved ones at some point in our lives. Treat people with the respect they deserve.


To often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest art of caring all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 

Leo Buscaglia (1924 – 1998) 





The Swans. Calm on the Top – paddling like mad on the bottom


I was invited to carry out some Reception training yesterday. It was for a private healthcare provider that accommodates in and out patients. It was a big organisation and I must say it was a stunning place to be in.It was 5* and one of the nicest healthcare buildings that I have been in. The grounds were beautiful and the facilities just top notch.

As soon as I walked through the door the atmosphere was brilliant. Everyone smiling, extremely friendly and their customer service was excellent. The residents and their families looked relaxed and extremely happy.There was a buzz around the building.

I had rung on several occasions prior to the training to speak to the HR Manager and every single time the Receptionists telephone manner was excellent.

I began to ask myself why was I here. Their Reception skills appeared to be perfect.

I did two training sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to attend.

It soon began to emerge that at times some of the Receptionist were like swans, swimming calmly on the top yet paddling like mad and not getting very far on the bottom.

The reasons slowly started emerging throughout out the session.

The Reception is covered from early to late evening 24/7 with security over night. Each Receptionist works on their own in Reception and each shift is very different. Although they work in Reception on their own there is constant support if needed.

This was the first time that the Receptionists had actually come together for training. The weekend Receptionists coming together with the morning, afternoon and evening receptionists and the night security was there too.

They never have any team meetings. Never have the opportunity to talk together as a team or to discuss reception issues or to put ideas forward, to be together as a team instead of working as an individual.

During the training it was obvious that each shift is worked very different. Each of the shifts had their own daily tasks to do. The morning shift busy with telephones, suppliers, and doctors’ visits and staff queries.

The afternoon shift is busy with administration, post and staff winding down for the day. Both morning and afternoon shift have visitors coming and going. Funeral directors calling, and the usual numerous telephone queries that they have to deal with.

The evening shift is busy with the mainly visitors coming and going throughout along with taxi’s turning up to collect people. The evening shift also had administration duties to do.

The weekend staff hardly ever see their colleagues that work during the week. Their main duties are looking after the vast amount of visitors that come and go all weekend.

Some of the Receptionists admitted they felt incompetent when they had to cover another shift. They often didn’t know what was expected of them, and admitted they often made mistakes due to the shift doing such different tasks. Some admitted that this could actually put them off helping out on another shift.

As any Receptionist will tell you. Reception is not just about greeting people and answering the telephone…………….It is so much more.

We discussed the benefits of having protocols and many agreed that they would really feel more confident if they had some sort of guidance there to help them if they become stuck. Lets face it — it is pretty embarrassing when a funeral director calls for paperwork and the receptionist has no idea what to do as she usually works weekends.

The Receptionists all agreed that it is something that they would like to do, understanding that it would be their responsibility to do a protocol for each of their jobs on their shift. They agreed they would be the best people to write the protocol.

They full understood that it wouldn’t be something that they would do overnight, it would take time to build up the protocols, but all agreed it would be worth it in the end, and from that they all felt that they would be more confident to cover other people’s shifts, and in the event that they come across something that they were not sure about that there would be a protocol to follow.

Each shift would have a file with their protocols in.

The training was fun, they were a lovely group of people and their customer skills are fantastic. They are lucky to work in such a beautiful building for a company that appear to be lovely to work for. Every single one of the Receptionist  said that they loved their job and that really did shine through, but they felt that they would love to have the opportunity of knowing what tasks were expected of them if they worked another shift.

But a bit more support in the way of a team meeting every so often, and perhaps more in house training, or as we discussed protocols to help them understand what goes on in the other shifts would certainly go a long way to giving them more confidence, and in turn wanting to help out when a session needs covering.

Working in and managing Reception staff in GP surgeries I could identify with what the Receptionists were telling me, each shift is different, and have many different tasks that needed to be carried out.

Not having the correct training or adequate information could prevent staff not wanting to cover other shift, which could result in staff shortages on shifts, or difficulty getting someone to do a shift.

Residents, Visitors, Staff all see the Receptionist as one person – the person that is there to carry out a task asked of them, some not aware that perhaps they do not know what to do.

It is the employers responsibility to ensure  that the staff are all shown or have the information available to do these tasks asked of them.

Fully trained staff are confident staff  resulting in less mistakes and in turn are happier in their role .

Protocols do not have to be complicated — simply written out. Here is an example on how you could start off your protocols 


(Sample Procedure)

Procedure / Protocol


Incoming Post

  • Post will arrive approximately 9.00 every day.
  • All post is opened by the Receptionist – except the following

–  Letter marked private and confidential

–  Letters marked for addressee only

–  Letter from Bank   – all to go to Pat in Account.

  • Each letter is date stamped — the date stamp is kept in the 3rd draw under the desk.
  • When all the letters are date stamped the letters should go into the appropriate pigeonholes
  • Follow protocol for “Post for staff on holiday”
  • Any post that has to be signed for please inform the member of staff immediately that it has arrived.


Hand delivered post

  • Follow procedures as above.


Outgoing Post

  • All staff are aware that the post has to be in Reception no later than 4.30
  • As the post comes through to Reception throughout the day frank with the necessary postage — taking care when difference postage amounts is required.
  • Try not to leave all the post to the end of the day as you could be busy doing something else and the postman will then be kept waiting.
  • Put the post in the basket on the back shelf behind the Reception desk.
  • The postman usually calls into Reception at 5.00 to collect the post.


Post needing to go to the Post Office

  • Any post that needs to go to the Post Office such as a registered letter/package will need to be done before the end of day.
  • If you are going to the post office ensure that Reception is covered or if not covered ensure that you let someone know you are going and the desk will be left unmanned for a short time.


Procedure/Protocol written on…………………………               updated on……………………

Prepared by……………………………………………….                      Position……………………….

Approved by ………………………………………………                    Position………………………..


The most important thing to remember when having protocols in Reception is that they are kept updated as and when the task changes. Not doing this could be worse than having nothing in writing. Perhaps you could review the protocols every so often and discuss at team meetings.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Carers Group – Does Your Practice Have One

Beyond the Reception Desk

When I started at a surgery I was given the job of Carers Lead. Now back then I didn’t really know much about Carers – in fact to be honest I actually thought that all Carers were in fact paid workers  – those that  looked after people in their home or in a residential home.

How wrong was I? I soon became to realise that there were hundreds of unsung heroes within our practice looking after people day in and day for nothing – they purely did it out of love.

What is a definition of a Carer?

A carer is someone who without payment, provides help and support to a friend neighbour or relative who could not manage otherwise because of frailty, illness or disability including mental health problems and substance misuse.

Anyone can become a carer.

 Carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can of any…

View original post 1,331 more words


What Was Your Most Memorable Interview?


I applied for a position in a large GP Practice for the position of Reception Manager. Getting the position would mean a big step up in my career so I was obviously both nervous and excited when I got an invitation to attend an interview.

I did my research, prepared for the interview and arrived early and felt pretty calm. I felt the eyes of the Reception team boring into the back of my head as I sat in Reception. I imagined at that moment I was the topic of conversation behind the Reception desk.

The Practice Manager introduced herself and took me into the interview room. The Senior Partner introduced himself and the interview began.

I answered questions with confidence and asked many in return. I started to feel a bit more relaxed. The Practice Manager was lovely. She then gave an almighty yawn. She was mortified and apologised we laughed, we both looked over at the Senior Partner to see what his response was and to our amazement he was fast asleep in his chair arms crossed – with his mouth opened!

The look on the Practice Managers face was a picture, she coughed loudly, he slowly opened his eyes with that glazed look of “where am I” the room was silent. I wanted to laugh, mainly due to nerves, was I that boring?

He sat up, apologised and we continued with the interview.

I was told they would be in touch as they had other candidates to interview. I left thinking that for some reason I had blown my chances.

To my delight I received a call the following day asking me back for a 2nd interview. This time the Senior Partner kept awake and after a lengthy interview I was offered the job. I was delighted.

He was a great Senior Partner with a great sense of humour and we would often laugh at the time I impressed him so much he fell asleep.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved



A Patients Experience – Would you complain?


A patients experience is such an important event be it an appointment at the Doctors Surgery, an outpatient’s appointment or a stay in hospital. Every patient should be treated with respect.

So why is it I hear of such horror stories – few I am pleased to say, but the few are few too many.

Every patient should be treated with respect. Lets face it everyone single one of us are “patients” at some time in our lives.

“Treat people as you would expect to be treated”

Sadly I heard of an experience that I certainly would not like to face let alone any member of my family. This happened to my friends mum recently in our local hospital.

My friend’s mum has recently had major surgery; she is in her 70’s and has a stoma bag as a result of her operation.

As you can imagine she is struggling in many ways to come to terms with this, getting over a major op, being away from her home and the environment that she has known for so many years and of course the fear of what lies ahead, the results from the op she is yet to be given. Her world at this moment in time has just been turned upside down.

This woman has only ever been in hospital to have her children, so operations, and hospital procedures, follow-up appointments, hospital staff and patient care is all very new to her.

My friend took her mum to outpatient’s appointments where a nurse attends to the stoma bag. They have always been treated with respect, and the care has always been good, as it should be – until the other day where they experience was far from “good”.

The nurse that dealt with my friends mum was far from gentle, hurting her as such took off the stoma bag, ignoring the patient as she winced in pain. My friend has to say something to the nurse.

My friend noticed that the nurse didn’t have any gloves on, she asked why she wasn’t wearing any and the nurse replied that she “didn’t like wearing them”

On taking off the stoma bag the nurse screwed up her face and made a comment about the smell – the patient was made to feel so embarrassed. My friend felt awful for her mum sharing her embarrassment.

The nurse stood there arching her back complaining that it was sore, and how she had been on her feet “all morning” – it was only 11.00 am.

The nurse then asked the patient what treatment she was having for her “cancer” – she looked at her daughter with panic on her face – the look asking, “have you not told me something”? The patient has not yet had the follow-up appointment with the consultant and as yet not had any results. She and her daughter are now convinced that the nurse seen something on her records.

My friend was far from happy about the treatment her mum received, but the fear of a complaint coming back at her mum while she is still receiving treatment has made her reluctant to speak to someone regarding this awful treatment.

She fears that if she complains about the attitude of this nurse that her mum might suffer because of it. She asked me what I felt she should do – I told her she had to do what she felt was right, I didn’t feel that I could put my hand on my heart and say by complaining that this wouldn’t come back on her mum – and how very sad is that.

It is important that people should have the freedom to share their concerns, and when they do that they are dealt with appropriately and in confidence and made to feel that they or their family will not be treated in any way different by doing so.

Each organisation should therefore have a good system put into place for such incidents. To have appropriate systems in place to deal with staff that have had a complaint made against them. To then follow the complaint through and if needed further training identified for member of staff concerned.

No one should ever be made to feel uneasy by speaking up – they should have the right to be heard.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved