Behind a Cancelled Appointment #Dentist


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Its happens to the best of us – most of us as a Receptionist will have at one time or another booked someone in with the wrong healthcare professional. But it’s how you deal with mistake, and the actions we take to ensure that:

  1. a) it doesn’t happen again and
  2. b) the patient is inconvenienced as little as possible, most important to remember it wasn’t their mistake they were booked in with the wrong person.

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A good friend of mine had this happen to her only last week. She was booked in with a wrong dentist at her Dental Practice – and here is the impact both emotionally and financially it had on her life due to a wrongly booked appointment.

Firstly, the patient has a phobia of the dentist, so to book an appointment in itself is a major ordeal for her. She was told at her last appointment that she needed to have a tooth extraction. The appointment was booked some 6 weeks away – 6 weeks of anxiety about the forthcoming appointment.

No one enjoys going to the dentist but to have a phobia is on another level and unless you understand this you have no idea the stress and anxiety it can cause the patient and those around them.

Her appointment was booked for 10 am last Monday morning. At 9.15 she received a call from the Practice tell her that she had been booked into the wrong dentist (she had been originally registered with the dentist she had mistakenly been booked in with – but because she had gone over a certain period of time without an appointment she had to re-register with the same Practice but was registered under another dentist) She was told that the dentist she was NOW registered with was fully booked for that day, and her previous dentist had refused to see her despite having the half hour appointment booked out.

The receptionist did apologise, and commented that she could hear how anxious the patient was at having the appointment cancelled. She was offered another appointment for the Wednesday at 8.30. She had to refuse this because she had children that she had to get to school and the dentist was a good few miles away from where they lived. She was then offered another appointment on the Friday morning at 10.00.

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Now this already had started causing the patient problems. Because of her phobia of the dentist her husband who is self-employed had to arrange to take time off from work to accompany her to the dentist. When he doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid. The patient also works 3 evenings a week, and Mondays were one of her nights to work.  Because she was going to have a tooth extraction it was suggested because of the type of work she does that she didn’t go into work that evening, so she had to arrange a swap with someone at her work. So, the cancelled appointment had already started to cause unnecessary problems as she now had to have another night off as the appointment was booked for the Friday which was another night she was scheduled to work.

She didn’t feel she could ask for another swap and she didn’t want to take this off as sickness as she prides herself on her exemplary sickness record and didn’t want to leave her work colleagues under pressure if she phoned in sick. She spoke to her boss and she had to take the night off as unpaid leave – another loss of earnings. Her husband had to also swap work around meaning that he was again losing more money on the Friday morning.

She arrived at the dentist, with her phobia now causing her concern she looked for reassurance from the dentist – which sadly she didn’t get. She was given the injection and asked to sit in the waiting room – the injection didn’t seem to take, so she was given a second and third injection before being told that it hadn’t taken and therefore the dentist couldn’t do the procedure. She was told she would have to be referred to the hospital to have the extraction done under a general anaesthetic and was told to expect to wait between 3-6 months. She really wanted to have this procedure done and dusted just to get it out-of-the-way and she certainly wasn’t keen on the thought of having a general anaesthetic, but understood why this would have to be done.

So, she was sent home, she had paid for the extraction that she didn’t have. On top of that now having to take a night off work without pay as well as her husband losing another half day’s wages. This tooth extraction that didn’t happen had now cost them both a lot of money.

10 minutes after leaving the dentist her mouth went completely numb and she couldn’t feel a thing, making her question if she could have indeed had the procedure done after all. She did feel that the dentist had certainly rushed through the appointment.

All of this causing annoyance and stress which could have been avoided if she had been put in with the right dentist when the appointment was being booked.

The importance of getting the appointment right is not only for the benefit of the Practice but also the benefit of the patient – you never know what is behind a cancelled appointment.

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Customer Service #LondonTransport


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My training often involves me travelling to London.

Growing up I lived on the outskirts of London and the underground was very much part of my life often travelling on my own at a young age. Fast forward a few decades and here I am once again using the underground as a way of getting to my destination.

I still find travelling on the tube kind of magical, I absolutely love people watching and amazed at the speed that the tube takes me to my destination, many times almost taking me to the door of where I need to go.

There are often many options of the routes that I can take and this gives me the option of travelling one way and back a completely different route.

When I am asked to host a training session it involves me having to do a lot of research before going. Planning my travel, choosing the best routes to take. Taking in account how many times I might have to change and go onto another line, to planning the distance from the tube to the organisation that I will be doing the training. Time management is vital for my job.

I love the fact that I can use my debit card on all the transport including buses, no worries about having to purchase different travel cards or standing in endless queues to purchase a train ticket. Having this system can often mean that I can alter my route at the last-minute (often to pop off and do a bit of retail therapy!)

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But what I have found every single time that I have travelled on the underground over the past couple of years is the brilliant customer service that the London Transport staff have shown. Every single time I have had a question be it for the best route to take or simply asking what platform I need to go to. Every single member of staff has always given me clear easy to follow instructions, every single member of staff have always been polite, friendly and always have had a smile on their face. Not only has their knowledge of the underground been incredible their local knowledge outside of their station is also exceptional.

I am useless at following maps and often when you come out of the underground there are several exits from the station which can at times be very confusing. I have often asked a member of staff for directions to a certain point, or even a Road by name and every single one of them has always given me good clear instructions. This has made my journey so very stress free.

Thank you London Transport your staff are a credit to an amazing service that you give to us all, and they can often make what could be a stressful journey a lot easier just by being the kind helpful people that they are.

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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

When You Feel Let Down. #GPSurgery #Rejected #System #AppointmentsSystem


I am very passionate about the NHS and will defend (within reason) any criticism that I hear about anyone working in this wonderful organisation.

My experience comes with working in the Reception areas of both large and small GP Surgeries, Hospitals and for the out of hours’ service. I have seen lots of different policies and procedures, and have worked with many different set up within this different organisation – especially the GP Surgeries.

I hear a lot of people bad mouthing Doctors, Receptionists and other health care professionals, and most of the time it’s because they (the complainer) do not really appreciate or understand the system they are complaining about. There are always two sides of the story.

Sadly, I feel like “one of those people” that I dread hearing from. I have felt very let down by my own GP Surgery and I feel their “system” hasn’t helped.

Let me explain what happened.

When I registered at the practice I was told that you could only see the doctor you were registered with. When I needed to make an appointment I would have to speak to his secretary and she would offer me the next available appointment with him and him only.

In the event of an “urgent” appointment needed if he wasn’t available then and only then would you be offered another doctor.

I have an ongoing issue that has needed following up. I had to wait two and a half weeks to get an appointment with my doctor. I didn’t feel it warranted an “urgent” appointment as I very conscious about the misuse at times of these appointments and know how difficult they are to get sometimes.

So, I waited the two and half weeks. In the meantime, I started to get a bad ear, again, I felt it could wait as my appointment was due in a couple of days’ time.

On arrival at the surgery I used the check in system and it said that I was due to see the locum doctor and not my named doctor.

I was called in by the locum doctor, she said that she was there covering for my regular doctor. I explained about my ear and she confirmed it was indeed infected and issued a script for antibiotics. I then started to explain about the main reason of the appointment and she cut me dead – she said that she had already dealt with one issue and wasn’t prepared to discuss anything else in this consultation. I had only been in the room a matter of minutes. I fully understand that had it been a “urgent” appointment that I had booked that I couldn’t really discuss ongoing issues, but this was a routine appointment that I had booked some time ago.

I tried to explain that I had waited over two and half weeks to discuss the issue, to which she said I would have to make another appointment to come back and see my dedicated doctor.

I couldn’t believe it, what a complete waste of my time, I had waited two and half weeks for this only to be told I had to see my own doctor.

I left her room, quite upset by the whole thing, and more of her attitude in dealing with me, she wasn’t even prepared to listen to what I had to say.

I went to the front desk to ask about an appointment for my own doctor and was told it would be another 3 weeks ahead. So in all it will take five and half weeks to see my own doctor and thus taking a much-needed appointment that could be used by someone else when my issue could have been dealt with in the appointment I had just had.

This sadly would be one of those occasions where I don’t think I would have been able to defend the situation that I found myself in.

 

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

When Customer Service Goes Beyond Expectations


What is good customer service? When  good customer service go beyond your expectation.

Today is the 15th wedding anniversary of a very good friend of mine. Apart from the beautiful day itself one person at that wedding still sticks in my mind for the most amazing customer service that I feel that I have ever come across. Have a read and see what do you think?

My friend and her partner booked a local wedding videographer for their special day. The chose carefully as they were trusting someone to film their special day and capture those special moments. The met the videographer on several occasions and really got a good relationship going with him. Coming up towards the wedding he told them that he was about to move some distance away but assured them that he would be with them on their day, he was planning on coming up the night before and would be staying with friends, he also told them that his wife was due their first baby just after their wedding date, but he assured them that he wouldn’t let them down and would still be there.

The wedding crept closer and everyone was getting excited, a couple of days before the wedding my friend tried to contact the videographer to just go over the last-minute bits and pieces – she got no answer. She tried again and the same thing. The day before the wedding and there was still no contact from the videographer, they were getting concerned and could only think that perhaps his wife had gone into labour earlier than expected, and if that was the case perhaps he was backing out of the wedding. They resigned themselves to that fact and disappointed that they wouldn’t have a film of their day, but later that day the wedding the videographer telephoned and said that he would be there as planned and looking forward to seeing them both. They asked after his wife and he confirmed that she was in hospital and just having tests, he assured them that she was happy for him to come down, she didn’t want them to miss out.

The day arrived and it was absolutely amazing, I could see why they have chosen this guy as he was just fantastic, friendly, accommodating, and just great with the little ones, capturing their funny little moments as they played out on the green. He certainly did them proud.

He approached them around 9.15 that evening, and asked if it was ok that he went home, he had put in a full 12-hour day and hadn’t stopped much at all.

The happy couple went on their honeymoon and on arrival back home their wedding video was waiting for them. They were not disappointed, the videographer had caught such magical moments, captured everyone laughing and smiling getting some lovely interviews from the guests and even encouraged the little ones to say a few words. Such a lovely memory of their day.

Whilst the couple were on their honeymoon they bought a little present for the baby, who had probably now made his or her arrival. They tried to telephone the videographer several times to both say thank you for the video and to ask about the baby.

Finally, after they had been back a week the videographer returned their call. They asked about the baby, then he told them…….

Two days leading up to their wedding his wife had not felt the baby move, long story short she was admitted into hospital to be told the baby had in fact died. She had to go through labour and give birth to their beautiful sleeping baby.

Can you imagine what that poor couple must have been going through. But both him and his wife had discussed it and decided that their loss should not impact on the happy couple, his wife insisted that he still travelled up and film the wedding.

This man who had just lost his baby, left his wife in hospital to come and make sure that the couples day went as well as he could make it.

He smiled, he laughed, he was sociable and it must have broken his heart when he was filming the little ones playing on the green.  No one had any idea the heartache this poor man must have been suffering.

All he focused on was making sure that he didn’t ruin the couple’s day.

What a hero, how do you beat that for customer service?

So, on this day, my friend’s anniversary whilst I congratulate them, and wish them all the best, I always have a thought for this young couple that must have been going through a living nightmare and yet they still put others before themselves. That to me is just 1st class customer service.

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

When Communication Works Well #PooleHospital


 

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I went along to Poole Hospital at the beginning of the week with my husband for an outpatient’s appointment.

On arrival in the Blue Clinic we were met by a lovely friendly volunteer who was eager to show us how to use the self-service booking system. She talked us through it chatting away whilst she was booking him in. Her lovely friendly nature was a breath of fresh air and it was obvious that she enjoyed being there. She then took us to the area we needed to be ready for our appointment.

The TV screen in the department gave out useful information as well as informing us that the clinic was running a bit late – this was extremely useful as it allowed my husband to pop off to the toilet without worrying that he might miss being called in for his appointment.

After a short while a healthcare assistant came out to apologise for the delay and she told us how many people were in front of us (we only had one other person before us) She went around everyone else in the department informing them of the same.

When his appointment came we were had a lovely welcome from the consultant together with a handshake, smile and great eye contact. The consultation wasn’t rushed, we had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and everything we needed to know was covered. Everything was explained in full details and in a way that we could understand.

We were in the department no more than about 45 minutes from arriving to leaving. It was a brilliant service and the most impressive thing was the communication, it was excellent and this must be so useful for people who perhaps are unsure, or somewhat confused at a being in such a large department.

We were both very impressed with our overall visit. Well done Poole Hospital, your staff, volunteers and communication was excellent.

 

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© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

The Intensive Care Bed #Hospital


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Here in the UK last night the BBC aired a programmed called “Hospital”. It was a very moving programme showing how stretched the NHS is. It certainly opened my eyes to the daily nightmares that consultants, managers and nursing staff find themselves in on a daily basis. The shortage of Intensive Care beds the result in operations having to be cancelled and patients being turned away for life saving operations. The look of frustration and helplessness etched on the faces of many.

How I felt for the patient that had his operation cancelled for the second time, being sent home after waiting in the ward anxiously waiting to hear that an Intensive Care bed was available – it didn’t happen the bed was needed for another patient.

It brought be back to when my mum was “that patient”. Extremely poorly with bowel cancel, awaiting a life saving operation. She was prepared for the op by having nil by mouth for 24 hours the day before the scheduled operation. By 4.00 that afternoon she was still waiting, we her family were waiting with her trying to keep her spirits up. Finally, I went along to the nurse’s station to find out what was happening to be told that her operation was cancelled due to there being no Intensive Care bed that she needed after her operation. Her operation was delayed to the following week.

The following week arrives, my mum another week on, getting weaker by the day but we were all optimistic she was having her op that day. It got to lunchtime and we got the dreaded news her operation was cancelled again for the 2nd time. The Intensive Care bed was needed for a man who was involved in a road traffic accident. I remember feeling anger at this person who I didn’t know – because of him my mum was not able to have her operation again – and then the instant guilt of feeling like that. This faceless unknown person fighting for their life as my mum was doing got the bed first – WHY!! I often wonder how their family felt – they probably just took it for granted that the Intensive Bed was there – as I thought before this nightmare began. Her operation was delayed for yet another week.

The 3rd week arrived – just a few days before Christmas. We were told previously that mum would be first on the operating list. I sat with her – her fight all gone. All 4 and half stone of my beautiful mum wasting away in the bed before my eyes. They came around to get her prepped for the operation. Excitement building like this was something that we didn’t believe was ever going to happen. Somthing that before this we had just taken from granted. Patients starting going down to the theatre – the consultant came up and asked if he could have a word with the family. His dreaded words “I’m sorry but we are going to have to cancel mum’s operation again” Our grief at that moment was unbearable. My heat was torn in two – how on earth could she survive another week. Amongst all of the shouting and swearing the panic and the disbelieve I still remember the look of despair on the consultants face. He just didn’t know what to say. He apologised and said that he would have felt exactly the same if it had been his family. It was the same story – they didn’t have an Intensive Care bed for mum after the operation.

I would never in my wildest thoughts that it would have been a bed that would have prevented my mum from having a life saving operation. It just didn’t make sense. I actually believed at this stage that this was just a lie – that they didn’t feel that mum at the age of 70 years was worthy of this operation. I felt they were just waiting on her dying.

The consultant went and spoke to mum. She had lost the will and just nodded – perhaps like me she thought that she was never going to have this op.

I remember mum saying she was hungry – I sent my Dad to get her a sandwich from the canteen. This has been her 3rd week of starving for 24 hours before being told she wasn’t having the op. She then asked the nurse for the commode. The nurse went off to get one. The nurse took longer than mum could wait and she attempted to get out of bed to get to the toilet – as ill as she was she still had her pride. As she stood upright the tumour burst – all over the floor. Within 10 minutes she was being rushed to the operating theatre where she had the operation.

She finally had the Intensive Care bed that she was promised 3 weeks ago, albeit only for 2 nights instead of the 5-7 she was told she would be in there for. She was  then transferred to the high dependency unit. I often wonder if someone had to be moved out of intensive Care to make way for mum, or if someone who was waiting for it had been cancelled like my mum had.

Watching the programme last night brought it all back. It made me see the nightmares that the staff have on a daily basis trying to access Intensive Care beds for patients. As the programme showed last night we in the UK have the most wonderful consultants with the most amazing powers to carry out life changing operations, the dedicated staff who work around the clock to look after the patients before and after their operations and the most marvellous well equipped hospitals that we should be so proud of. But how shocking it is to think that it sometimes comes down to the “luck of the draw” when it comes to needing that much-needed Intensive Care bed.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved