Receptionist Training: Safely Evacuating People With A Disability



Evacuation procedures should always consider the possibility that someone may need assistance during a fire evacuation and you should be aware for the eventuality.

In the event of a Fire Evacuation please be aware that there may be less abled people in the building, these may be patients, visitors or staff.

As a Receptionist it will be your duty to ensure that the Reception Area is cleared in the event of a Fire Alarm going off.

Patients that are in with the Doctor or Nurse will be the responsibility of who they are
seeing. They should escort them from their rooms and to the Fire Evacuation Meeting Point.

When planning to assist disabled persons from the building both permanent and
temporary disabilities should be considered.

Permanent Disabilities can include:

  •  Persons in wheelchairs
  • Persons that are Visually Impaired
  • Persons that have Impaired Hearing
  • Some Learning Disabilities
  • Elderly persons with walking aids
  • Elderly persons that may need assistance
  • People with arthritis or other disabilities that can lead to poor mobility.

Temporary Disabilities can include:                             

  • People with sporting injuries
  • People with broken bones (in a cast)
  • People recovering from an operation
  • Pregnant Women
  • People with serve back pain

Or other temporary disabilities

  • People with young children / pushchairs.

Some people may have a disability that is not obvious; this could cause a delay in patients evacuating the  building.

 EVACUATION OF DISABLED  PATIENTS.

Evacuation may not be necessary or advisable.

If persons with disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using
a lift, assist persons with disabilities to a safe place, this could be in a room behind a Fire Door. Never used a lift when a Fire Alarm has been activated. If this procedure has taken place make sure that the Fire Officer is aware and knows exactly where they are. This usually applies if the disabled person is on the first floor or more.

If immediate evacuation is necessary (the fire is taking hold rapidly) be aware of
the following considerations:

NON-AMBULATORY PATIENTS – WHEELCHAIR USERS.

Wheelchairs have many moving parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting. You may need to remove the chair batteries to lessen the weight. Life support
equipment may be attached. In a life-threatening emergency it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair.

Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous. If necessary, two or
three individuals may carry non-ambulatory persons from the building. Wheelchairs should not be used to descend stairwells, if at all possible. Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences.

Ways of being removed from the wheelchair

Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter leg bags, braces, etc.

Whether to carry forward or backward on a flight of stairs

Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if the wheelchair is being left behind

In lieu of a wheelchair, does the  person prefer a stretcher, chair with cushion/aid, or car seat?

Remember not to block stairwells or exits with Wheelchairs

Is paramedic assistance necessary – if so you may need to request an ambulance as well as the Fire Brigade?

ALWAYS CONSULT WITH THE PERSON IN THE CHAIR REGARDING HOW BEST TO ASSIST THEM.

 VISUALLY IMPAIRED PATIENTS.

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate surroundings.
In an emergency situation:

Describe the nature of the emergency and offer to act as the “sighted guide” –  offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place.

As  you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles. Reassure them at all times.

When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if  further assistance is needed. Again reassure them and confirm that they are safe.

HEARING IMPAIRED PATIENTS

Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative
warning technique is required. Two methods of warning:

1.  Write a note describing the emergency and escort them to the nearest evacuation
route.

2.  Turn the light switch off and on to gain their attention. Then indicate through
gestures what is happening and what to do.

 PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Some patients with learning disabilities are often with Carers and they will be able to guide
them to safety. If the Carer has more than one Patient you might need to help them evacuate the building.

We cannot always know if someone has a learning disability as they cope extremely
well with day-to-day situations. But in the event of an emergency it could lead to panic or stress for the patient.

Some people with learning disabilities may come to your organisation on their own, and normally deal with day-to-day issues extremely well. But in the event of an emergency this may cause them to panic – If you see someone who seems to be getting stressed go over  and help them to the Emergency Exit.

Reassure them as much as you can. When they are safely out of the building ask someone to stand with them until it is safe to go back into the building again.

ELDERLY PATIENTS

Elderly persons can often get confused; they are slower in their reactions and can
often have medical problems that are not obvious. If you see elderly people in
the reception area guide them towards the Emergency Exit.

Although it is important to get them out of the building as quickly as possibly you will
need to understand they are not going to act as quickly as you.

TEMPORARY DISABLED PATIENTS

Pregnant WomanIf a woman is near the end of her pregnancy this could slow her down. She may also have other small children including a buggy with her, so if you identify this please make sure that someone assists her.

 Small Children – Some people may have more than one child with them and often a buggy, it is important that you direct them to the exit. In the event of a lot of people trying to evacuate through one exit it might be necessary to ask them to leave the buggy behind and help them get the small children out safely.

It is important to keep the children calm and not to frighten them in any way.

Sports Injuries – There might be patients in the waiting room with sports injuries; this may include patients that have broken legs, arms, back problems sprains or someone with a walking stick. It may be necessary to assist them from the building.

Generally  Unwell Patients – Patients that are generally unwell might find it difficult in an emergency with all patients if you see someone who is having some difficulties please ask them if they need assistance.

 Don’t be alarmed by the above; these are many Scenarios but hopefully won’t all be in the waiting room all at the same time!!!

Has your workplace got a policy in place for safely evacuating people safely from the building?

Have you got enough signs around your building for an Evacuation Meeting Point”?

Does your organisation have regular Fire Training? Would you know what to do in the event of an Evacuation?

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Practical Receptionist Skills – Daily Tasks


 

 

The Start of the Day

As a receptionist you might very well be the first person to enter or exit the building. Therefore you will need to know how the alarm works and the code.

Does your Surgery have a protocol(checklist)  on opening and closing the Surgery? If not perhaps you could suggest one. This is very useful for all new staff – it gives you a step by step guide on what to do when opening/closing the Surgery.

The Waiting Room

The waiting room is part of the Receptionist’s working environment and is where the patients will spend part of that time while in the Surgery. The state of the waiting room and its conditions of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients either positive or negative. Make sure your waiting room leaves a positive impression.

Before Every Surgery (am and pm)

Always check that your waiting room is clean and tidy. This is also important for Health and Safety reasons.

If you identify any hazards report them to your manager or appointed Health and Safety person IMMEDIATELY.

It is essential that all magazines/toys/books are not left lying around on the floor as these can be dangerous and someone could slip and hurt themselves and this could result in a claim again your surgery.

Ensure that you notice board is up to date and all relevant notices are appropriate.

Keep magazines and other reading materials up to date. There is nothing worse than reading a magazine that is 2 years out of date.

Patients are more than happy to bring in used magazines that are only a week or two old.

It has been mentioned on a patient survey that our Practice once held that there were not enough magazines for men in the Surgery – i.e. cars/DIY/Boating/Gardening – perhaps include these in your magazine pile.

Ensure that your patient leaflets are kept up to date and the rack kept tidy.

Patient Notes

If you Doctor is still using patient notes (which is pretty rare these days) ensure that the list corresponds with either the computer or the appointments book. Remember to take out notes of patients that have cancelled and add any new patients booked in immediately. Avoid the situation whereby a patient might be kept waiting in the waiting room because the Doctor did not have their notes.

If a patient phones to cancel an appointment ensure that you delete the appointment immediately. A) This frees up another appointment for another patient

b) If the patient is not taken off the list it looks like they DNA (did not attend) for their appointment and this could go against them.

Incoming Mail

The Receptionist/Secretary/Administrator might have the responsibility of dealing with the daily post. Post will come from two sources – the main post office and the internal mail from the local hospitals and Health Authority.

The normal mail delivery should be date stamped sorted and any enclosures securely attached. They distributed to the appropriate people.

Ensure that you know who to give the post to in the event of a Doctor/Nurse/other is not in surgery due to sickness or holidays.

It is vital that you date stamp any incoming correspondence as this could be vital in the event of any legal action.

Your Surgery will have a protocol on dealing with the “internal post” from the local hospitals and Health Authority. Again it is vital that everything is dated stamped – including all patient results.

Out Going Post

Ensure that all outgoing post has the correct stamp on it.

True Story

‘There was an incident at one of the Surgeries that post had been sent out without stamps on. This resulted in patients having to go to the local sorting office to collect the letters days later, having to pay over the odds for postage and then finding that they had missed appointments that were in the letters.’

Ensure that post is posted on a daily basis – do not leave it for days before posting.

Internal Post / Specimens

Ensure that all specimens are labelled correctly – do not assume that the doctor will have filled it out correctly. Check the following has been completed

Patients Name

Patients Date of Birth

Time sample was taken.

Ensure that all the appropriate samples are correctly placed in the appropriate box for the daily collection.

Samples that are not completed correctly will be returned by the lab – resulting in the patients having to come back to the surgery and having the test taken again.

PETTY CASH

You will need to have a small cash flow in Reception. Patients will often pay for certain forms signed by the Doctor. Ensure that you have change to give.

You might also pay for other services from Petty Cash such as the milkman, stamps or a window cleaner. For any payments made from petty cash ensure that you have a receipt and place with the petty cash.

Ensure that the cash is kept in a locked petty cash box and is topped up every week or month to an agreed figure – known as a “float”.

Emergencies

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency. Occasionally this may happen within the surgery when there are no medical or nursing skills available on the premises, but most often the emergency will come in the form of a phone call. A receptionist should therefore be trained in such event and a protocol set in place. A receptionist should be fully aware of how to contact both GP’s and the ambulance service in an emergency.

At The End of the Day

Like the morning Receptionist you might find yourself being one of the last to leave the surgery at the end of the day.

It is important that the surgery is secure. Some of the important things that need to be checked are

Doors and windows are closed and locked

Lights are all switched off

All appropriate electrical equipment is switched off (check with IT as some computers are left on overnight)

Answerphone is switched on

Telephone redirection is active.

Alarm is set as you leave the building

Again it is advisable to have a checklist as there are probably many more things that need to be done when closing the surgery.

The Start of the Day

As a receptionist you might very well be the first person to enter or exit the building. Therefore you will need to know how the alarm works and the code.

Does your Surgery have a protocol(checklist)  on opening and closing the Surgery? If not perhaps you could suggest one. This is very useful for all new staff – it gives you a step by step guide on what to do when opening/closing the Surgery.

The Waiting Room

The waiting room is part of the Receptionist’s working environment and is where the patients will spend part of that time while in the Surgery. The state of the waiting room and its conditions of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients either positive or negative. Make sure your waiting room leaves a positive impression.

Before Every Surgery (am and pm)

  • Always check that your waiting room is clean and tidy. This is also important for Health and Safety reasons.
  • If you identify any hazards report them to your manager or appointed Health and Safety person IMMEDIATELY.
  • Ensure that you notice board is up to date and all relevant notices are appropriate.
  • Keep magazines and other reading materials up to date. There is nothing worse than reading a magazine that is 2 years out of date. Patients are more than happy to bring in used magazines that are only a week or two old. It has been mentioned on a patient survey that our Practice once held that there were not enough magazines for men in the Surgery – i.e. cars/DIY/Boating/Gardening – perhaps include these in your magazine pile.
  • Ensure that your patient leaflets are kept up to date and the rack kept tidy.

Patient Notes

If you Doctor is still using patient notes (which is pretty rare these days) ensure that the list corresponds with either the computer or the appointments book. Remember to take out notes of patients that have cancelled and add any new patients booked in immediately. Avoid the situation whereby a patient might be kept waiting in the waiting room because the Doctor did not have their notes.

If a patient phones to cancel an appointment ensure that you delete the appointment immediately.

A) This frees up another appointment for another patient

b) If the patient is not taken off the list it looks like they DNA (did not attend) for their appointment and this could go against them.

Incoming Mail

The Receptionist/Secretary/Administrator might have the responsibility of dealing with the daily post. Post will come from two sources – the main post office and the internal mail from the local hospitals and Health Authority.

The normal mail delivery should be date stamped sorted and any enclosures securely attached. They distributed to the appropriate people.

Ensure that you know who to give the post to in the event of a Doctor/Nurse/other is not in surgery due to sickness or holidays.

It is vital that you date stamp any incoming correspondence as this could be vital in the event of any legal action.

Your Surgery will have a protocol on dealing with the “internal post” from the local hospitals and Health Authority. Again it is vital that everything is dated stamped – including all patient results.

Out Going Post

Ensure that all outgoing post has the correct stamp on it.

True Story

‘There was an incident at one of the Surgeries that post had been sent out without stamps on. This resulted in patients having to go to the local sorting office to collect the letters days later, having to pay over the odds for postage and then finding that they had missed appointments that were in the letters.’

Ensure that post is posted on a daily basis – do not leave it for days before posting.

Internal Post / Specimens

Ensure that all specimens are labelled correctly – do not assume that the doctor will have filled it out correctly. Check the following has been completed

  • Patients Name
  • Patients Date of Birth
  • Date/Time sample was taken.

Ensure that all the appropriate samples are correctly placed in the appropriate box for the daily collection.

Samples that are not completed correctly will be returned by the lab – resulting in the patients having to come back to the surgery and having the test taken again.

PETTY CASH

You will need to have a small cash flow in Reception. Patients will often pay for certain forms signed by the Doctor. Ensure that you have change to give.

You might also pay for other services from Petty Cash such as the milkman, stamps or a window cleaner. For any payments made from petty cash ensure that you have a receipt and place with the petty cash.

Ensure that the cash is kept in a locked petty cash box and is topped up every week or month to an agreed figure – known as a “float”.

Emergencies

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency- especially new Receptionists. Occasionally this may happen within the surgery when there are no medical or nursing skills available on the premises, but most often the emergency will come in the form of a phone call. A receptionist should therefore be trained in such event and a protocol set in place. A receptionist should be fully aware of how to contact both GP’s and the ambulance service in an emergency.

At The End of the Day

Like the morning Receptionist you might find yourself being one of the last to leave the surgery at the end of the day.

It is important that the surgery is secure. Some of the important things that need to be checked are

  • Doors and windows are closed and locked
  • Lights are all switched off
  • All appropriate electrical equipment is switched off (check with IT as some computers are left on overnight)

Answerphone is switched on

Telephone redirection is active.

Alarm is set as you leave the building

Again it is advisable to have a checklist as there are probably many more things that need to be done when closing the surgery.

Receptionist Training: Safely Evacuating People With A Disability



Evacuation procedures should always consider the possibility that someone may need assistance during a fire evacuation and you should be aware for the eventuality.

In the event of a Fire Evacuation please be aware that there may be less abled people in the building, these may be patients, visitors or staff.

As a Receptionist it will be your duty to ensure that the Reception Area is cleared in the event of a Fire Alarm going off.

Patients that are in with the Doctor or Nurse will be the responsibility of who they are
seeing. They should escort them from their rooms and to the Fire Evacuation Meeting Point.

When planning to assist disabled persons from the building both permanent and
temporary disabilities should be considered.

Permanent Disabilities can include:

  •  Persons in wheelchairs
  • Persons that are Visually Impaired
  • Persons that have Impaired Hearing
  • Some Learning Disabilities
  • Elderly persons with walking aids
  • Elderly persons that may need assistance
  • People with arthritis or other disabilities that can lead to poor mobility.

Temporary Disabilities can include:                             

  • People with sporting injuries
  • People with broken bones (in a cast)
  • People recovering from an operation
  • Pregnant Women
  • People with serve back pain

Or other temporary disabilities

  • People with young children / pushchairs.

Some people may have a disability that is not obvious; this could cause a delay in patients evacuating the  building.

 EVACUATION OF DISABLED  PATIENTS.

Evacuation may not be necessary or advisable.

If persons with disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using
a lift, assist persons with disabilities to a safe place, this could be in a room behind a Fire Door. Never used a lift when a Fire Alarm has been activated. If this procedure has taken place make sure that the Fire Officer is aware and knows exactly where they are. This usually applies if the disabled person is on the first floor or more.

If immediate evacuation is necessary (the fire is taking hold rapidly) be aware of
the following considerations:

NON-AMBULATORY PATIENTS – WHEELCHAIR USERS.

Wheelchairs have many moving parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting. You may need to remove the chair batteries to lessen the weight. Life support
equipment may be attached. In a life-threatening emergency it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair.

Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous. If necessary, two or
three individuals may carry non-ambulatory persons from the building. Wheelchairs should not be used to descend stairwells, if at all possible. Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences.

Ways of being removed from the wheelchair

Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter leg bags, braces, etc.

Whether to carry forward or backward on a flight of stairs

Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if the wheelchair is being left behind

In lieu of a wheelchair, does the  person prefer a stretcher, chair with cushion/aid, or car seat?

Remember not to block stairwells or exits with Wheelchairs

Is paramedic assistance necessary – if so you may need to request an ambulance as well as the Fire Brigade?

ALWAYS CONSULT WITH THE PERSON IN THE CHAIR REGARDING HOW BEST TO ASSIST THEM.

 VISUALLY IMPAIRED PATIENTS.

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate surroundings.
In an emergency situation:

Describe the nature of the emergency and offer to act as the “sighted guide” –  offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place.

As  you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles. Reassure them at all times.

When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if  further assistance is needed. Again reassure them and confirm that they are safe.

HEARING IMPAIRED PATIENTS

Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative
warning technique is required. Two methods of warning:

1.  Write a note describing the emergency and escort them to the nearest evacuation
route.

2.  Turn the light switch off and on to gain their attention. Then indicate through
gestures what is happening and what to do.

 PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Some patients with learning disabilities are often with Carers and they will be able to guide
them to safety. If the Carer has more than one Patient you might need to help them evacuate the building.

We cannot always know if someone has a learning disability as they cope extremely
well with day-to-day situations. But in the event of an emergency it could lead to panic or stress for the patient.

Some people with learning disabilities may come to your organisation on their own, and normally deal with day-to-day issues extremely well. But in the event of an emergency this may cause them to panic – If you see someone who seems to be getting stressed go over  and help them to the Emergency Exit.

Reassure them as much as you can. When they are safely out of the building ask someone to stand with them until it is safe to go back into the building again.

ELDERLY PATIENTS

Elderly persons can often get confused; they are slower in their reactions and can
often have medical problems that are not obvious. If you see elderly people in
the reception area guide them towards the Emergency Exit.

Although it is important to get them out of the building as quickly as possibly you will
need to understand they are not going to act as quickly as you.

TEMPORARY DISABLED PATIENTS

Pregnant WomanIf a woman is near the end of her pregnancy this could slow her down. She may also have other small children including a buggy with her, so if you identify this please make sure that someone assists her.

 Small Children – Some people may have more than one child with them and often a buggy, it is important that you direct them to the exit. In the event of a lot of people trying to evacuate through one exit it might be necessary to ask them to leave the buggy behind and help them get the small children out safely.

It is important to keep the children calm and not to frighten them in any way.

Sports Injuries – There might be patients in the waiting room with sports injuries; this may include patients that have broken legs, arms, back problems sprains or someone with a walking stick. It may be necessary to assist them from the building.

Generally  Unwell Patients – Patients that are generally unwell might find it difficult in an emergency with all patients if you see someone who is having some difficulties please ask them if they need assistance.

 Don’t be alarmed by the above; these are many Scenarios but hopefully won’t all be in the waiting room all at the same time!!!

Has your workplace got a policy in place for safely evacuating people safely from the building?

Have you got enough signs around your building for an Evacuation Meeting Point”?

Does your organisation have regular Fire Training? Would you know what to do in the event of an Evacuation?