Disability Awareness #Receptionists Training


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Staff training is important not only for the Receptionist but for the patient too. Trained staff are confident staff and therefore can often handle difficult situations in the Reception area.

When we talk about staff training we automatically think of

       Telephone Skills

       Patient Confidentiality

       Dealing with Difficult Situations

       Reception Etiquette

But how many Practices offer Disability Awareness Training for their Reception staff?

The attitudes of staff are crucial in ensuring that the needs of disabled people are met.

There are many types of disabilities, and can affect a person’s:

  •        Vision
  •        Movement
  •        Thinking
  •        Remembering
  •        Learning
  •        Communicating
  •        Hearing
  •        Mental Health
  •        Social Relationships

Are you staff prepared if a wheelchair user needs assistance or if a patient has a visual impairment and needs help? It is important that Receptionists understand the needs of your patients that have a disability. And of course there are the hidden disabilities that we need to be made aware of too.

Disability Awareness Training will help your staff:

  •        Understand the barriers faced by people with disabilities
  •        To help identify when accessibility is important
  •        Explore their own attitude towards disability and accessibility
  •        Define the medical and social model of disability
  •        Identify barriers people with disabilities face and how to remove those barriers
  •        Develop an awareness within the team
  •        Be aware and be able to use appropriate language and body language in relation to a person with a disability
  •        Feel more confident in their role

Disabilities can include

  •        Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
  •        Autism
  •        Brain Injury
  •        Hearing Loss and Deafness
  •        Intellectual Disability
  •        Learning Disability
  •        Memory Loss
  •        Mental Illness
  •        Physical Disability
  •        Speech and Language Disorders
  •        Vision Loss and Blindness

and not forgetting

Temporary Disabilities, which can include:

  •        Sporting injuries
  •        People with broken bones
  •        People recovering from an operation
  •        Pregnant Woman
  •        People with Severe back pain
  •        People with young children / pushchairs (in the event of an emergency they may require assistance)

These people and people with permanent disabilities are important when it comes to evacuating the building in the case of an emergency. Are you staff trained in emergency evacuation and assisting people with a disability in such an event?

When someone speaks of a disabled person do you automatically think ………….Wheelchair? Actually wheelchair users only account for 6% of that figure. There are so many disabilities that we cannot actually see. Some disabilities you can see and some you can’t.

The Hidden Disability

Whilst it is very easy identify someone in a wheelchair, be it a guide dog or walking aid, or someone who has aids in their ears, it is the hidden disability that can often go unnoticed.

People today still have problems with reading and writing; I came across this several times when I was working in Reception. 99% of the patients would not own up to this, it was simple observation on my part that identify this and in turn I was able to help the patient without too much of a fuss drawn to them.

It is important when patients object to filling out forms at the front desk that you do not “insist” it simply might be that they cannot read or write.

Often the excuses they use when asked to complete a form is “oh I have left my glasses at home” or I am in a hurry can I take it away and bring it back later” and even “I am not sure of the information I will need to go home and find this out and bring it back later” to which some will but many will not return the forms. People that have problems reading and writing do feel intimidated if the Receptionist insists as they quite often have to “own up” to their disability often causing embarrassment to them and the Receptionist.

Knowing the signs the Receptionist will be able to deal with the situation in such a way that the patient is unaware of the Receptionists suspicions. Offering to help fill out the form in a quiet area is often met with such a relief from the patient. They are more than happy to let the Receptionist help. Again, if the Receptionist suspects that the patient might have problems with reading and writing she can offer to help the patient in the future. Trust is built up between the patient and the Receptionist and quite often the patient will confide in the Receptionist of their disability.

It is important that staff have an understanding of different disabilities, and how best to help them.

Often speakers from different Disability organisations will only be too happy to come into your organisation and speak to staff, highlighting areas that will benefit the patients and the Receptionists.

Sending staff on external training courses is also an option, you could send one member of staff and they could come back and train other Receptionists, or you could send different staff to different courses therefore getting a mix of knowledge in the Reception area. All of which will greatly benefit the patients and the Receptionists.

Disabled people go to school, work, form relationships, do their washing, eat, get angry, pay taxes, laugh, try, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream like anyone else.

Whilst the disability is an integral part of who they are, it alone does not define them, do not label them.

Treat them as individuals.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved
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Speaking to Receptionists on the importance of Training


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Would you employ a Doctor or Nurse at your Practice that didn’t have any qualifications? No – so why did I even ask such a stupid question? Of course you wouldn’t. You go for the best candidate there is don’t you?

What is the first thing you look for on a CV? Previous experience, qualifications/training and the availability they can offer.

When you employ a Practice Nurse or another member to the healthcare team they are usually offered ongoing training. This will benefit the Practice, more clinics can be run, and therefore a better service offered to the patients.

So, why should a Receptionist be any different? They are part of the team, they are there to give a good service to the patients, and to support the Doctors, Nurses and the Practice Management Team and to achieve that they need the appropriate training to do this.

A good majority of General Practice Receptionists are woman, over 40 years of age and on average half have been in the job for more than five years. Four-fifths work part-time.

Comments from Receptionists are they have chosen the job because it dovetails with the rest of their lives.

What they get from their job is satisfaction from helping patients, meeting people, having a good relationship with colleagues and doing varied work.

Sources of stress include difficult patients, work pressures often down to shortage of staff, problems finding appointments to give to patients, and feeling caught between the doctors and the patients demands (piggy in the middle effect)

Dealing with difficult situations at the front desk, or over the phone is often highlighted in training courses, and often Receptionists feel unsupported when dealing with these incidents.

Many had a sense of teamwork with colleagues, but many did not perceive the whole practice as a team. Many felt the doctors failed to appreciate the pressure and complexity of their work.

A receptionist’s work is very complex, demanding and intense often involving a high level of commitment to patients, colleagues and the practice.

Speaking to Receptionists at various training sessions always bring different responses on how they feel supported by their Practice especially when it comes to training.

They vary from hardly any support at all, and having to learn whilst doing the job, to others that have support and training on a regular basis.

A role as a medical Receptionist is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. I have seen Receptionists lasting as short as a day to perhaps a week before saying “this isn’t the “nice little job I thought it was going to be’

A Receptionist that lasts is there because of their love for the job. If they do not feel supported they will leave, and move on to a Practice whereby they will be supported and appreciated. Don’t be that Practice that loses all your good staff.

I asked a group of Receptionists what did they think is most important when it comes to training for the role of a Doctors Receptionist – their replies included:

Quality time to get used to the job and the rest of the team”

Shadowing and taking notes, one to one time somewhere quite and more so when it comes to getting to grips with the computer system”

“Training on confidentiality – understanding what can and cannot be said”

“I must admit I was frustrated at being  “thrown in at the deep end” approach. There has to be an element of this because of the nature of the role, but some protected time is needed”

“Reception training is an investment and saves time (and often tears) in the long run”

Learning to deal with difficult situations at the front desk – I was faced with a bereavement at the front desk recently and didn’t know how to handle it”

“Being able to ask questions that get fully answered”

I asked, “What training their Practice had for their Receptionists” and the replies included”

“I was told at my interview that an induction programme would be put in place for me when I started, and it never happened – although the intentions were there. There simply was never the right time”

“The two receptionists asked to train me on the job felt resentful and that they had been “landed with me which made me feel awful”

“Other staff members were often reluctant to explain things in fear I might ask more questions, they clearly felt under pressure”

“The office Manager was immensely encouraging to me and I learnt so much from her. She proved very canny at sensing when I was struggling and would step in with down to earth words and support”

“I had to cancel a couple of training courses due to staff shortages which meant I was needed in Reception – and to date I haven’t had the chance to re-do them”

“My Team Leader and Practice Manager are wonderful and support us Receptionist with ongoing training”

A new Receptionist needs time to pick up a wide range of skills and variables associated with this underestimated role. People learn in different ways and often at different speeds. Some are ace at IT and pick up the computer system in no time, but perhaps struggle with terminology. Some get flustered easily and find it difficult dealing with difficult situations; others are able to cope with the pressure that patients (and often doctors) throw their way on what can sometimes be an hourly basis.

The role of the Receptionist is endless. You never get to the point and are able to say “there I know it all now” every day brings something new.

I asked Receptionists how their felt that training has benefited them and their replies were”

“Good training can be enjoyable, fun and such a benefit to the Receptionist, the patients and the Practice”

“Patients deserve to have staff that are confident and comfortable in their role”

Patients will leave satisfied, and hopefully reassured’

“I enjoy training – I feel I have the space to ask questions and enjoy meeting others in similar roles”

“Doctors, nurses, Practice Management will be supported by the reception team and therefore be able to work more effectively themselves.

“Jobs are completed and not just “left” because the Receptionist is unsure about completing a task, be it a letter, phone call or a query at the front desk.

“Team members work more efficiently when everyone understands their role, and the role of others around them”

It is so important that a new Receptionist is given time, and more time if needed. Investment in staff right from the start is so important.

Take some time to find out the needs of your Practice and also the needs of the Receptionist.

You’re Receptionist are the ambassadors of your Practice and deserve to be supported in the role.

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

What does it take to become a good Team Player


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A good team player has the ability to work together with others working towards a common vision and the ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organisational objectives.

 

  1. Reliable.

A good team player is constantly reliable day in and day out, not just some of the time. They will strive to get the job done; they will have a good all round understanding of their role and will provide a consistent quality of work. A good team player will have great commitment and will develop a good honest working relationship with the members in their team as well as good communication with others within the organisation.

 

 

  1. Honest and Trustworthy.

Great team players communicate their ideas honestly and clearly and respect the views and opinions of others in the team. Clear, effective communication done constructively and respectfully is the key to getting heard. A good team player will be valued within the team.

 

 

  1. Meets Deadlines.

While getting the work done and doing their share a good team player will know that taking risks, stepping outside their comfort zones, and coming up with creative ideas is what it will take to get ahead. Taking on more responsibilities and extra initiative sets them apart from others on the team. Ensures that the team meets deadlines set by the organisation.

 

 

  1. Adapts quickly.

Good team players sideline and see change, adapt to changing situations and often drive positive change themselves and will strive to encourage change with fellow team members.

 

 

  1. Appreciates other’s work styles.

A good team player takes the time to make positive relationships with other team members a priority and display a genuine passion and commitment toward their team. They come to work with the commitment of giving it 110% and often will expect others on the team to do the same. A good team player will work well with others strengths and support those that have weaknesses. They will value other team members and their experience.

 

  1. Works well within the team.

To be a good team player, you don’t have to be extroverted or indulge in self-promotion. A good team player will be an active participant and do more than their job title states. Put the team’s objectives above theirs and take the initiative to get things done without waiting to be asked. A good team player will always be valued within the team. In return they will build positive perception, gain more visibility, and develop influential connections to get ahead in their career.

 

and remember…………..

Always treat someone in the way you would want to be treated. 

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

The Forgotten Appointment


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I recent wrote a blog on following up test results.

Who Is Responsible For Following Up Test Results http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-nS

Here is an example of such a scenario – where the patient had to chase up an appointment.

A friend of mine has to have a yearly MRI. It was detected 2 years ago that she has a cyst on her pancreas – although the consultant was not alarmed in any way, and felt it was indeed just a cyst he wanted it monitored first every 6 months and then at her last appointment last January he said that she could go to yearly checks.

She saw the consultant last October who again confirmed that the MRI would be done in January. The MRI appointment in the past has always come through approximately 6 weeks before the date.

She was getting concerned as by the end of December she had not got her appointment through.

After the Christmas break she phone the consultants secretary and got her answer phone. She tried for several days getting the same message.

The message said:

“This is Mr ****** office. There will be someone here between 8.30 – 1.30 Monday to Friday. There is no facility to leave a message on this telephone.

She was actually phoning within these hours – and tried every day – and the same message was given every single time.

The secretary obviously was on extended holiday – but did not ensure that the correct message was put on the machine. My friend had no idea when she would return, and had to keep trying on a daily basis until she got a reply.

When she finally got a reply she explained about not having an appointment for the MRI. The secretary looked on her notes – and then said the dreaded phase “I can’t see you booked for one – there is nothing in your notes”

My friend had to go through the how scenario about having to have yearly MRI’s that she had spoken to the consultant last January and the October who said that he would get the MRI appointment sorted. The secretary looked back at her notes and confirmed that indeed she had in fact had several MRI’s already and that she would look into it.

There was no apology about the mistake. You should always apologise and tell the patient you will get it sorted immediately. More importantly get back to the patient as soon as you can with the apporpriate answer.

That was 2 weeks ago and she has heard nothing. She doesn’t know if the secretary has in fact spoken to the consultant, if an appointment has been made, and if so how long she has to wait – as in previous appointments one MRI has been booked directly after the previous one. She could be waiting months for another MRI appointment.

If my friend had not chased up her appointment it would never had been made – how many people would have just “left” it thinking the appointment would come through. My friend is obviously concerned as this appointment as it is fairly important – and is worrying for her.

From a Managers point of view this is pretty bad patient service. I understand you cannot get back to every single enquiry that you receive, but certainly if one of these enquiries is due to a fault of your surgery, hospital or department the important thing you should do is follow-up the mistake, make the appropriate appointments and get back to the patient with the details and an apology that it happened in the first place.

My friend received nothing, no appointment, no communication, and certainly no apology.

She is now going to have to phone again, perhaps having to explain it to yet another secretary, and feels that she might in fact “annoy” them for phoning again, I have ensured her that it is important to phone, she should not have to be made to feel guilty about phoning for something that was not her fault in the first place.

This is one example of following up test results or  appointments if you hear nothing back. Mistakes do happen – it’s how you handle them that can resolve a difficult situation.

If you have a patient that mentions that they have not heard about a hospital appointment that they have been referred to from your Surgery  – ask them to check with the hospital.

I appreciate that mistakes do get made – its how you handle them and get the situation rectified is the key.

And one last thing – make sure the message you give on your answer phone is the right one!

And to add insult this was actually a private consultant she was seeing – so not only handled badly she is paying for the service too.

Receptionists Training: Communication and the Signs


What is Communication?

COMMUNICATION CAN BE DEFINED AS:

A process of which information, meanings and feelings are shared by persons through the exchange of verbal and non-verbal messages.

HOW DO WE COMMUNICATE?

NON-VERBAL – posture, gesture, facial expression, clothes, smell and touch.

VERBAL/VOCAL LANGUAGE  – Volume, tone, pitch of voice, clarify of speech, intonation, pace.

Communication is about giving and acquiring information by various means. The more effective you are at communication with others the more you acquire or learn.

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

People may communicate their state of mind or emotions through:

  • Posture
  • Sighs
  • Hand gestures
  • Tears
  • Eye Contact
  • Heavy or light breathing
  • Relaxed or tense
  • Silence
  • Eye movement
  • Facial expressions
  • Tone of voice

PEOPLE MAY ALSO COMMUNICATE THEIR PERSONALITY THROUGH:

  • Choice of clothes
  • Home / car / lifestyle
  • Make up / jewellery / hairstyle
  • Leisure interests

The above are  ways that people use to communicate – but the important thing is to understand  communication and deal with it in the appropriate way.

and remember – communication is a two way process.

Taking A Telephone Message


When taking a message ALWAYS have a pen and paper/notebook ready. You don’t know how long the message is going to be, don’t presume you will remember it. (have a look at blog: Chinese Whispers http://t.co/7oge2fxK )

You will probably need to take down a telephone number and a contact name and possibly a message.

If you are taking a message that you need to pass to another person you must remember:

ALWAYS USE A PROPER NOTE PAD OR MESSAGE BOOK

  • Do not use a “sticky pad” – they are too small and often get stuck to another piece of correspondence – causing the message getting lost or not getting to the correct person.

DATE THE MESSAGE WHEN IT WAS TAKEN

  • Often a message is not read on the day it was taken.

TIME THE MESSAGE WAS TAKEN

  • This is also  very important. A time can quite often be significant and give a wider meaning to the message to the person who is receiving the message especially if the message if read some time after it was taken. 

 WHO THE MESSAGE IS FOR

  • Quite often the message might be for a specific person or the whole team.  You may need to put: or the attention of Alison Smith – Reception Team Leader Or For the attention of The Reception Team.

WHO THE MESSAGE IS FROM

  • Always take a name and contact number from the caller. Never presume that the person the message is for will have the contacts number.

SIGN THE MESSAGE

  • It is important to let the person know who has left the message. If they have a question regarding the message they know whom to contact if they have a query regarding the message.

 The six steps above are not only helpful, they are courteous and in a court of law very important.

and please Remember! A message you take could be used in a court hearing and used in evidence. The evidence would include the date the message was taken, the time it was taken and who took the message.