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.