National Volunteers Week 1-7 June


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Today starts a week celebrating all volunteers across the country.

This week is also aimed at raising awareness about the benefits of becoming a volunteer. As well as helping others, Volunteering as been shown to have a positive impact on the lives of those who are volunteering. I know how volunteering helped me in way that I would never have imagined. It made me feel good that I was helping someone out. It gave me back my confidence and I went on to learn new skills that I never knew I had.

We had moved due to my husband’s job. I went from working full-time and having a very active social life to living in the country with no job. It wasn’t for me, I felt isolated and extremely lonely.

I looked into volunteering and found a local Resource Centre that were looking for volunteers to help at their older people’s club once a month. I would help make tea, help with the bingo and arrange the monthly raffle. We would encourage the group to participate in some country dancing. The people who came to the group were all elderly and some very isolated. For some it was the only time they got out. We would also go on a year’s trip away which consisted of 2 nights away in a lovely hotel with lots of activities organised by the group. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.

From that group I then started volunteering with a disability group. The people in this group were amazing, to be part of such a happy and proactive group was a privilege. We also had many trips out and had some great laughs. Being part of this group, I got to know the people, discovering their personalities and looking right past their disability. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.

I then was asked to be a member of the Board of Directors, something that I would never have thought I would have done. How honoured I was to be asked. Every single member on the board was a volunteer and gave up their time for the monthly meetings.

I then trained to be a facilitator for the Rainbow group that took place at the Centre. This was for children that was going through a family separation or bereavement. This for me this was volunteering at its best. To work with these amazing children through such tough times made me feel very humble. I certainly learnt a lot from these little ones. I then went on to train to become a Coordination for the Rainbows Group where I would be responsible for the group facilitator and the children. If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.

I was then asked to volunteer on the HR sub group at the Centre. I also became a member on the volunteers committee and helped to produce a booklet for the older people in the area with all useful information.If it were not for volunteers this group would not have survived.

Throughout the years volunteering I was very privileged to have attended numerous training sessions, workshops and open days. I helped organise various fun days, Christmas Fayre and education sessions. I took first aid courses, I took courses that came with a certificate at the end and none of these ever cost me any money – just my time. From every course and workshop, I always learnt something that I not only used in my time as a volunteer, but often in my own personal life.

I met some amazing people and it made me realise that volunteering actually did something for me. It gave me a purpose, to get out, to meet people, and knowing that my volunteering actually meant a lot to people.

The good thing about volunteering is you can choose to volunteer in an area that you are really interested in. You can often choose your hours, give as little of as many as you like. You make friends, learn new skills and for the gesture of your time can often mean so very much to someone.

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The Friendship Bench


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In a lot of our local school they have adopted the “friendship bench” or a “buddy bench”

This bench is a special bench situated in the playground where children can go when they have no one to play with and feeling lonely. All the other children are encouraged when they see someone sitting on the bench to go over and offer some support and friendship, to sit and chat or to ask the child to come and play.

I think this is a fantastic idea, and it teaches children to think of others.

Asked by one of the children they explained how it works….. he said “its where, if you can’t find your best friends and you don’t know where to go and play, you sit on the friendship/buddy bench and someone will come and find you and they will include you in their game” Another child agreed that the bench helps to ‘find friends easily when you are lonely and you don’t have anyone to play with’.

Fast forward to adulthood. Have you ever been in a situation whereby a friendship bench could have been a lifesaver for you? Maybe not the actually bench but having the hand of friendship being offered.

Have you ever started a new job and felt so alone, not included and that feeling of dread often being left on your own at break time? This is particularly difficult for people who do temporary work.

Have you ever been at a meeting where you feel that everyone knows someone except you?

Have you ever been involved in a large group and you seem to be the only person there on your own?

I am sure that you quite possibly might have been in this situation at some point in your life.

Some people are comfortable at mixing with strangers and find it easy to walk up and introduce themselves and start chatting to another person, or even a group of people. But there are many that haven’t got the confidence to do this, perhaps they might be shy, lack confidence or just feel that they are not good enough to be there for whatever reason.

What do you do when you are presented with a situation that puts you in a large group of people who you don’t know?

I am a generally a friendly person and will chat to anyone. I am one of these people who will start a conversation at a bus stop rather than stand in silence. If I am on my own I will look to see if there is another person standing on their own and go over and chat to them. If I approach a group I just smile and stand on the edge of the group until there is an opening for me to speak. This is harder to do, but I would rather do this than stand on my own.

So how can you look out for those that need that hand of friendship.

Always welcome a new member of staff and include them in the work place as much as you can. Try and arrange that they have someone with them at tea breaks or lunch breaks. Introduce them to other members of staff – even those that might not be in your department. Making someone feel welcome is a massive step towards someone feeling confident in their new role.

At a meeting, you might be aware that it is someone’s first time there. It is important for them to be made welcome and know of any procedures that may be required. People often worry about not knowing what is expected from them and that is a reason for nerves to set in, or mistakes to be made or simply them not taking part in the meeting.

If the occasion is bigger such as a conference look out for those people standing on their own. Go and chat to them or offer them to come and join your group. They well might be waiting on others coming and decline your offer, but you at least have asked.

If you a Manager and a new person starts its your responsibility to ensure that the “new person” is made to be felt welcome. If you can’t do it personally then ensure that they have someone who will mentor them and that they have someone they can go to. Often new people get “forgotten” in the busy day and that can be very scary.

If you are organising a training session or meeting try to include everyone and make them feel part of the group. I always make sure that I am there to personally meet everyone and chat to them on arrival.

Someone once said …… “There are times in my life when I could use a friendship bench. People of all ages are lonely at times. It’s a simple, transformative idea”

It can often take a lot for someone to go alone, the hand of friendship can be change so much.

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Does your Receptionist recognise signs of Sepsis. A Patients Story #Bournemouth Hospital


There has been a lot of publicity recently regarding Sepsis. This is aimed at raising awareness and those that work in the GP surgeries and Hospitals will know on too well that this will create fear amongst some patients and therefore will be more than likely phoning the Surgery/Hospital for advice.

We are being told Sepis should be treated urgently as we would a heart attack.

For all Receptionists, Secretaries and Administrators who could be faced with a query regarding this are you fully competent to deal with it? Would you be confident in dealing with a call that could be Sepsis? I must confess I am not sure I would be able to identify this emergency a few weeks ago, but I feel a lot more confident now that I have read up on it.

You probably have procedures and policies in place for dealing with a heart attack. Have you a procedure or policies in place to deal with sepsis? Perhaps at your next team meeting you could put this on your agenda or speak to your Reception Manager or Practice Manager about having one written up.

The most important thing is that you know the facts about Sepis and what is expected from you as a Receptionist if you take such a call. Don’t be one of those surgeries/hospitals that could be highlighted as missing something that might be so obvious to someone who knows what Sepsis is.

Many doctors view Sepsis as a three-stage syndrome, starting with Sepsis and progressing through severe Sepsis to septic shock. The goal is to treat Sepis during its early stage, before it becomes more dangerous.

Sepsis usually comes with a probable or confirmed infection and includes several symptoms. These perhaps can be discussed with a Doctor and the Receptionists and a guide of what questions to ask the patient.

Septis has to be treated quickly as the patient can go downhill very quickly

A chart that I found very useful to help identify some of the symptoms:sepsisqa-2015-big

A very interesting clip from the Royal Bournemouth Hospital highlighted a patients experience and how his Sepsis was nearly missed. They are keen to spread awareness. Well done Bournemouth Hospital for sharing this short film.

Published on July 13 2016. 

Sepsis is a medical emergency, here at RBCH we are keen to spread  awarness and listen to patients experiences to improve care. 

 

Do you thank the whole Team?


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I attended a team meeting yesterday and someone was giving feedback about a very successful group that she was part of. She highlighted how well previous group sessions had gone and how the current group was going from strength to strength.

She spoke of the great work that the Team are doing and the results that the social workers and the facilitators are achieving. The team is making the group interesting and she said how well the childcare workers were doing running a crèche enabling the parents to take part in the group. She spoke about the various outside agencies who had also had an input into the course and she also mentioned the volunteers who make big difference to the smooth running of the group and she showed her appreciation to the caretaker for all his hard work over the 6-week course.

She showed her thanks and appreciation to everyone within the team. It was both lovely to hear and so important. She thanked everyone single person that make it possible to have such a successfully run course. Thanking the caretaker was a credit to her, she showed that she appreciated every single person within the team, how many people would remember to thank the caretaker, or even the cleaners.

On this course the caretaker is very much part of the team. The course is carried out early evenings. He is the person that ensures that the building is open for everyone arriving, and the last to leave ensuring the building is safe before locking up. He is the one that ensures that the car park is lit up and safe and he is the one that ensures that everyone comes into a nicely well-lighted warm building and often goes out of his way to help others. His job description is endless.

We often look at the frontline staff and see them as the “team” but the team goes much deeper than what we actually see.

Think of a favourite film or television programme. Who stands out to you the most? More than likely the actors and actresses, perhaps the extra’s if they have cause to stick in your mind. It’s the people that we see that we think makes the film, the programme or the “Team” but watch the credits at the end, there are so many people involved in the making of them and without them there wouldn’t be a film or programme, the people in the credits are the ones that prop up the leaders, the actors, the people that we see as “The Team”

So next time you are in a meeting and like to thank your team for doing a good job please remember to thank the whole team and thank everyone who has been involved.

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Communicating with your Receptionists #Managers


Being a doctors receptionist is no easy task, and certainly not the job some people seem to think it is, some think it’s sitting at the desk booking patients in to see the doctor and handing out prescriptions, oh no it’s so much more and more again. Being a doctors receptionist is a bit like marmite, you either “love it or hate it”. The receptionist that ‘loves’ his/her job will be loyal, hard-working and very proactive. They are the ones that can see problems ahead, make the best suggestions and really want the best for the practice. They are the ambassadors of your practice.

It saddens me when at some of my training sessions I hear that they sometimes do not feel appreciated and they don’t feel part of the team. They often blame Management for lack of communication who are occasionally not caring and unapproachable. This might not be true, but it’s how they feel. Lack of training is also another complaint that I hear of often. Many Receptionists feel that they could do so much more in their role, if only they had the appropriate training. This is where I step in and defend the managers! I know how hard the role of a manager can be, often being piggy in the middle; the Partners shouting on one side and the Staff on the other. There are budgets to follow and targets to hit, whilst trying to stay loyal to both sides. Being a manager can often be a very lonely job. Who is there for the Manager when it gets tough?

My role of manager soon taught me that communication is key. In communicating with the receptionists I came to learn, first hand, what the problems in reception were, before it got too late and became a bigger problem than it already was. Receptionists need to know what is going on, if they don’t they often jump to the wrong conclusion. They will often gossip between themselves and make up their own minds, which can often cause bad feeling within the team. Having a team with a low morale is often extremely hard to turn around.

What is the best way to communicate with your receptionists? Hold Regular staff meetings; weekly, twice monthly or monthly.

  • Ask the staff to contribute to the agenda, make the meetings their meetings.
  • Make the meetings interesting! If they are interesting the staff will actually want to come, they will contribute and as a result they will be a success.
  • Rotate the meetings on different days and times to enable part-time staff to attend at least every other meeting.
  • It’s your chance as a manager to give the facts, to tell them as a team what is happening within the practice; it’s a great way to avoid rumours and discontent.
  • Take minutes for future reference and make copies available for those that were unable to attend. Make a copy for the partners too.
  • Ask a Partner to attend a couple of meetings a year, this shows support, and in my experience, always goes down very well with the receptionists. It also gives the Partners an insight in what is happening in reception and how hard their roles can often be.
  • Use the meeting to discuss any issues that have occurred and ask the team how they feel it could have been dealt with, often they will come up with the solution. This will help in the future as they will then start to solve problems themselves, rather than running to you every time, expecting you as the manager to have the answer. Meetings can often make the team more proactive.

Another complaint is lack of communication. Often, many of the staff will be told something but others don’t hear about it. This can lead to confusion and often anger, which can result in jobs not being done properly, as some staff have not been informed. A lot of the time this happens to staff who are on holiday or that work part-time. Memos or emails sent to every member of the team seems to work well. Having a receptionist message book works extremely well. Receptionists can leave messages that everyone can read before they begin their shift.

Communicating with your team will often highlight concerns, and often they will share good ideas,  after all they are the “experts” in their field and will often offer very productive ideas. Many of my training issues, ideas and changes came from my experiences of “walking in their shoes”

Another way of communicating with your staff is to simply show your support. Go and see what they are doing and praise them regularly. Most importantly, always remember how difficult your job as a manager would be if the receptionists did not do their job well.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Is your Practice/Staff at risk #SocialMedia


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Many of us use social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Most of us use it for social purposes, sharing news, pictures, keeping in touch with family and friends, and some of us use it for business purposes.

There is no doubt about it social media is a marvellous thing but it also has a darker side. People sharing information and pictures without the permission of others, to comments being made that could result in bullying or even worse.

I have a friend who was mortified last Christmas to find that pictures that had been taken on a Practice works night out when she was “a bit worse for wear” had found their way onto her Facebook page. She had a few too many drinks and unfortunately tripped up a curb, someone took a picture and thought it would be funny to post this with other pictures of the night on their Facebook page. Unknown that these pictures had been taken; she only discovered them when she was tagged into the pictures. This resulted in he sons, husband and other members of her family and many friends seeing her in pictures she would rather them not have seen. She was not happy and it in fact caused a row at work on the Monday. There was bad feeling between the two for some time, and this in turn affected the moral within the team. The team divided in their opinions some feeling that the person who had posted the pictures had done no wrong, and some feeling that my friend was right in feeling angry. The row developed and a complaint to the Practice Manager and it all got very unpleasant.

Another article I found interesting recently was a Doctors Practice displayed a notice in their surgery asking patients not to use Facebook or Twitter to complain about their service. The notice asked patients if they had any complaints or comments about the surgery would they please contact the Practice Manager as any comments on social media sites may be seen as a breach of their zero tolerance policy. The surgery said in the notice that they would be happy to deal with comments/complaints in the usual way.

The “zero tolerance policy” referred to appears to be NHS guidance on dealing with rude, abusive or aggressive behaviour towards staff.

Apparently the online comments about the surgery named staff and swearwords were used and this what prompted the decision for the practice to put the notice up.

I think the practice was right in asking patient not to use social media for this, as the practice would not have been able to respond to any of the comments because of confidentiality issues. If staff were named this could have been seen as a form of bullying, and the staff member would have every right to feel threatened about it.

see a recent blog with a similar story :

The Threatened Receptionist http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-x6

There are other stories that have recently been in the headlines, which have involved Facebook, a Neapolitan woman following a marital row her husband demanded that the photographs of their honeymoon be taken down from her Facebook page. His argument was he had not given his permission to publish them, and he even took her to court over it. The Naples court has not only agreed with him but the wife may have to pay him damages. The pictures were taken on the couples honeymoon 10 years ago and included photos of the couple.

Another article recently has also highlighted the importance of holidaymakers sharing their plans on social medial. It could be read and used by criminals planning a burglary.

This information can be seized by thieves – from research said that some 78% of ex-burglars said that they strongly believed social medial platforms are being used to target property.

I think we all need to be aware of the repercussions of staff sharing information on their personal social media sites – especially if it involved their workplace. It could be a very interesting topic to have on your next Receptionist Meeting to discuss using pictures on social media that might be anyway involved their place of work. But most important as an employee they must understand never get drawn into any arguments about their place of work on any social media sites.

Perhaps you could put something about social media usage in your staff contract.

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© 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…

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