A Degree in Filing


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Filing was every single Receptionists (and managers nightmare). Scanning is the new filing now and that sometimes can get just as behind.

No one enjoyed filing – it was always left, not being done blamed on shortage of staff due to sickness or holidays. Not enough hours in the day and so on…………

Every so often one of the doctors would come into my office complaining on the state of the filing. Of course the longer it got left, the harder the job became and it just became a vicious circle.

Then at the surgery we had a Receptionist leave. She worked 6 hours every day so I decided to replace her hours with a Receptionist that worked 4 hours per day and I was going to create a new role for a filing clerk 2 hours every day. I was worth a go – the filing had to be done.

I decided that we would have the filing clerk working 4-6 pm every day. She (or he) would do nothing but filing for 2 hours. The other Receptionists were over the moon with the new proposal – but on the understanding that they were still at times expected to help out with the filing.

Some of the GP’s wondered if this would work, they asked who on earth would want to come in for 2 hours every evening at 4.00 to do filing – but they agreed that if I felt it would work I should give it a go.

I advertised the position and was just overwhelmed with the response that I received – far more applications than I did for the Receptionists position that I advertised at the same time.

I went through the many application letters and CV’s.

I received letters that showed they really were not interested in the position and that they were probably just applying for the position so they could tell the job centre that they were “applying for jobs”. I received letters from teenagers still at school looking for a part-time job. I received letters from students looking for temporary work until they went on to university. I received letters from mums at home looking for some part-time work, and I received a letter from a lady with a degree who had a vast amount of qualifications and experience.

I whittled the numerous applications down to a sensible number. I carefully chose some from each group, an unemployed person, a 18-year-old student, a local mum and the lady with the degree. For some reason something was telling me that I should interview her.

As I usually did with every interview I let the Staff Partner have a look at the applications. He came back to me with some comment on the forms and the form of the lady with the degree he had written –  I don’t feel that this position is not for her.

I still felt for some reason that I should interview her.  Part of me wondering why she had applied for this position – no qualifications required yet she had a degree, and what really could be seen as a boring job to a lot of people.

So, I made my list for interview and included my “degree lady”.

I arranged for the people to come in for interview.

The person that was on the dole didn’t show up, didn’t even phone to cancel the appointment – nothing – not a word from. Sadly this did happen a lot. Even those that often appear to have the qualifications for the position.

The student that came told me they would not be able to made certain nights due to a course they were taking – so in fact the position was advertised for 5 evenings a week and the were telling me they could do 4 evenings a week. Errr not what we wanted at all.

The mum was very eager for the position, but told me that she might have problems actually getting to the surgery for 4.00, as she would have to wait until her husband came in from work before she could leave. The times could have been adjusted slightly but I felt she was not right for the job.

One lady came along for the interview and I realised that I knew her – not very well, but I did know her – and she seemed to think because of that the job was her’s!

I also interviewed another couple of people who I felt could have fitted in just right with the team, and do the job.

Everyone at the interview was told that the role would be filing for 2 hours every night and at times it could get pretty boring – but they all understood and still wanted to be considered.

Then last of the interview was the “degree lady”

She was lovely. She had a vast amount of experience and her CV just blew me away.

I had to ask the question “why do you want a job that is just filing for 2 hours every day”

Her reply was  her previous jobs had not been without stresses and strains. Recently bereaved it made her look at her life and decided she wanted to make changes. She decided this was the time for her to retire from her previous job. She had grandchildren she wanted to spend more time with. But she also wanted to still have a purpose to get out every day; to be with people and for her the job and the hours were just perfect. She actually said she felt she would enjoy the filing.

She was truthful, and a really lovely woman.

So, much to the surprise of the GP’s and the Reception Team I hired the “degree lady”. There were a few that doubted that she would last – why would someone like her just want to file for 2 hours every day. Some even said she would not last the week.

The “degree lady” started the following Monday. What a delight she was. She soon was very much part of the team, was loved by everyone and was excellent at her job and had the filing up to date and in order in just no time.

She was extremely helpful and in no time was actually helping out in Reception, and soon became a bank Receptionist for us – coming in to cover for sickness and holidays. But she never gave up on her filing hours. She loved the job.

For me she was one of the most successful applicants I ever employed.

 

There is a good reason why GP Receptionist’s are so “grumpy”


I was surfing the net the other night and came across a heading, which was written in January 2012.

There is a good reason why GP Receptionist’s are so grumpy” (I am still not sure that grumpy is the right word to use)

I was interested to read on and clicked onto the link.

The article was by Dr Jenna Ward who is (was) a Senior Lecturer in organisational studies at York University and was interviewed by Kate Wighton.

Dr Jenna Ward and her colleague Dr Robert McMurray from Durham University were embedded with surgery receptionists over a three-year period. They observed 30 receptionists at work in 3 surgeries.

AT LAST – someone who actually seen and understood the enormous pressure that a GP Receptionists can be under.

She talks about emotional exhaustion (yes they certainly do) and the job being emotionally demanding – quite right.

She wrote that there is a stereotype of GP Receptionists as dragons behind a desk – unsmiling individuals with a curt manner and an apparent determination to be anything but helpful. But in fact, their detached manner is not intended to intimidate or belittle patients, it’s actually a form of protection, to help them avoid emotional burn-out.

Although I have to say the surgeries that I have worked in as a Receptionists and as a Manager I really felt that our Receptionists were far from dragons, but I feel that having good training helped us in dealing with the situations that Dr Ward spoke about.

At any one time she witnessed a receptionist dealing with 6 people. The first, an elderly woman tearfully registering the death of her husband. Next, a smiling mum, there in surgery for her baby’s check up. Meanwhile the telephone is constantly ringing with people who are unwell.

She writes about the difficulties the Receptionists faces trying to keep neutral in all of these cases and of course another challenge they face is being caught between the patients and the doctors.

She talks about patients shouting, and violence and calls of help from a disturbed patient.

She goes on to say that there is little appreciation of the emotional strain placed on GP Receptionists and the fact that they receive little training in handling a lot of these situations.

All Receptionists are at risk in the fact that any mistake could result in serious health implications for the patient.

There is a misconception that Receptionists do nothing more than answer the telephone and type data into the computer.

There research found that the role of a GP Receptionist requires a high degree of emotional awareness and maturity.

They also found in their research that Receptionists REALLY do care.

Managers: if there is one thing that you can do to support your staff is giving them the appropriate training in dealing with these situations. Make them feel appreciated.

Here is a link to the article

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2081457/There-good-reason-GP-receptionists-grumpy.html

Doctors Receptionist Training: Elder Abuse


Unfortunately we are hearing too much on elder abuse these days. It is and has been in the headlines far too often, on TV in documentaries and even has been a big storyline in Emmerdale recently.

The vast majority of older people live full and active lives, enjoying good health, happiness and independence. Most older people play a valuable role in their communities and society generally. This is a cause for celebration. However, a small number of older people may experience mistreatment, neglect or abuse, and they may also experience more than one form of abuse at any given time.

As a receptionist you will often be privileged to information from patients they that might not chose to share with anyone else. I can recall many conversations with patients that shared some of their most inner secrets, fears and concerns.  If you have a good bond with patients they will often tell the receptionist something they might not want to tell the Doctor or Nurse.

As a receptionist will get to know your patients very well. You will chat to them on the phone, in person when they come to the surgery, and you even might know them if you live local to the Surgery. They will see you as a friendly face and someone who plays an important role in the Surgery.  You will find that you will bond really well with certain patients.

If you are in any doubt that a patient might be in some kind of danger, abuse or other then please share your concerns with a Doctor or a nurse at your Surgery. Do not discuss any of your concerns with anyone outside of the Surgery. Please remember patient confidentiality.

If you are a recepitonist in a Hospital  speak to your Manager/Team leader about your concerns.

What is Elder Abuse?

“A single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person or violates their human and civil rights”

Types of Elder Abuse

There are several forms of abuse, any or all of which may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance.

Physical Abuse includes hitting, slapping, pushing, misuse of medication, or inappropriate restraint.

Psychological abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, intimidation or coercion.

Neglect and actions of omission include ignoring medical or physical care needs; failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of medication.

Discriminatory abuse includes ageism, racism, sexism that based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment

Financial or material abuse includes theft, fraud or exploitation; pressure in connection with wills, power of attorney, property, inheritance or financial transactions; or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Who might abuse?

Any person or organisation may be guilty of abuse. Most often it is someone well-known to the older person, for example, a family member (as in the story line in Emmerdale), a relative, friend or care provider – a relationship where there is an expectation of trust. In some cases, organisations, through poor work practices or lack of appropriate training for staff in dealing and interacting with and understanding older people can unwittingly allow abuse to happen. Advantage may also be taken of the older person by unscrupulous individuals, such as bogus traders and callers – and of course we have all heard of such sad stories.

 Where can abuse happen?

 Abuse can take place anywhere; most abuse takes place in the home, whether the person is living along or with family. It may also occur within residential, day-care or hospital settings, other places assumed to be safe, or in a public place.

If you hear of a patient that maybe suffering abuse talk to someone you can trust in the Practice – the patient’s doctor or the Practice Nurse or Practice Nurse.

Elder people often cannot stand up for themselves; perhaps they are too frightened to tell anyone –  they often do not want to “worry anyone” such as their doctor or family members. Sometimes they do not even realise that they are suffering abuse of any kind. But one thing is for sure – elder people deserve respect, and help when needed.

How would YOU feel if it was your mum or dad, aunty or uncle, or elderly neighbour that was being abused. You would want it dealt with if it was I’m sure.

Dealing with Difficult / Angry / Aggresive Patients.


Difficult patients can often come in a wide variety. For some patients that         are being unhappy can  be:

  • Picky people                                                              
  • Know it all
  • Constant complainers
  • They will not listen to reason.

We have all come across someone who fits the above – and will continue to do so – but it is how we handle them that is the most important thing and even more important how we learn from it too.

But perhaps the most difficult for everyone is the angry patient. This is someone who feels that he or she has been wronged, and is upset and emotional about it.

These patients will often complain, they are angry – usually about something that you or the surgery did (or did not do!).

What are the answers to handling difficult patients? There is not right and wrong way. Each patient / situation is different and will be dealt with in various ways by staff. It is how you handle the complaint that could make all the difference.

Dealing with difficult patients may not only benefit you (honestly) it will benefit the surgery as well; Being confident  at handling difficult patients is an asset to the practice and a credit to you if done well.  It will help with your confidence when dealing with the next difficult patient.

AGGRESSIVE PATIENTS

  • Aggressive behaviour is competitive with an aim to win. Therefore someone usually has to lose.
  • This is usually achieved by putting others down or over-riding others feelings, wishes, or rights.
  • The aggressive person cannot see another person’s point of view.
  • Often the aggressive character responds with an outright attack. The aggressive person can resort to verbal or even physical abuse.
  • All this will leave behind a trial of hurt, anger or humiliated feeling.

Words and phrases often connected with aggression

  • Loud
  • Forceful
  • Out to “win”
  • Puts others down
  • Attacks when threatened
  • Verbal and physical
  • Arrogant
  • Unreasonable
  • Threatening
  • Overbearing
  • Inconsiderate
  • Abusive

Aggressive people make others feel

  • Defensive
  • Humiliated
  • Resentful
  • Revengeful
  • Aggressive
  • Upset
  • Afraid
  • Withdrawn
  • Hurt
  • Passive
  • Insecure

Dealing with difficult and aggressive patients will happen – but I am happy to say not as often as you probably think it will.

Be prepared to deal with each situation – if you feel you are not handling the situation very well or feel threatened ask someone else to step in and help.

But most important learn from each experience and take it forward in helping the next difficult situation.

DEALING WITH AN ANGRY PATIENT

If a patient is angry, never get angry back. It will only turn an unpleasant incident into something bigger. This then could turn to an official complaint.

Do not try logical argument on a patient in a temper. It will only add fuel to the fire.

Do not grovel, and do not let angry patients draw you into accepting their assumption that the practice is generally inefficient because of their single unhappy experience.

The way to deal with an angry customer is to apologise for the specific inconvenience only, and to take immediate action to put it right.

An angry patient in front of you means that you still have an opportunity to put it right. If the patient storms out of the surgery (or slams down the phone) make a note of it, if they made a complaint later on you may need to have evidence of this. (see blog The Incident Report Form http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-6o  )

If you can sort out the problem contact the patient and let them know that you have sorted it out. You often will find by this time they have completely calmed down.

DEALING WITH A RUDE PATIENT

Try not to get personally upset by the rudeness of an offensive patient. And do not fuel their abuse by making “value judgments” just stick to the facts.

Do not be deliberately causal or icily superior to show an offensive patient what you think of them.

The way to deal with the offensive patient is to keep cool, keep your professional detachment, stay polite and keep offering possible solutions in strictly factual terms.

Learn to ignore rudeness. Remember that the offensive patient is offensive to anyone that would have dealt with them. Your job is not to make them “nice” you simply have to supply them with what they came in for.

the point is that you do not have to make an angry person into  person – that is  impossible. All you have to do is get them to go away with whatever it was they came in to get – within reason.

THE VERY DIFFICULT PATIENT

Sometimes you do everything right, and that is still not enough for some people. You have put the right techniques into action, but the patient still remains difficult. In this instance you should bear in mind that:

  • Difficult patients are usually difficult for a reason.
  • Patients that are feeling, ill, scared or anxious are more likely to be difficult – and may remain difficult until their problem is resolved. This can often be a relative or carer of a patient.

Anxious patients can become childlike and have “tantrums”. Treating them like a child will encourage them to act like a child, whilst treating them like a responsible adult will encourage them to act rationally.

An example could be:

I understand your problem and I assure you I am trying everything to help you. Please take a seat and I will let you know as soon as I have any information”

This will be much more calming and effective than saying:

“I am doing all I can here. You will have to take a seat and wait your turn”

If people remain angry, it is often because they think that they are not being listened to.

So:

  • Make an effort to look as if you are interested. Put your listening skills into action.
  • Particularly difficult patients may be “playing” to others around them. Perhaps take them into another room where they do not have the audience to “play” to.
  • You will gain the sympathy of other patients when dealing with a difficult patient.
  • Often other patients will try to help by arguing with or commenting on the behaviour of the difficult patient.
  • Whilst this might feel like a welcome help, remember that it is easy for the difficult person to feel even more threatened and aggressive.
  • If you have a very aggressive patient make sure that you have a barrier between you such as a desk.

If you feel that you are out of your depth ask the patient to take a seat and call on a senior member of staff.

Complete an incident form on any such occasion.

And remember if you carry out the above – more often than not the patient will calm down and apologise for the actions.

People who are unhappy with your service will tell ELEVEN other people and people that are happy will only tell FOUR. So make sure your patients leave happy!

Practical Reception Skills for a New Receptionist


As a new Receptionist you will be very welcomed by your team. Do not be fooled at this new position as being a “nice little job” it is far from it. You will be extremely busy at times, sometimes short-staffed and occasionally come across grumpy patients (and sometimes Doctors). A Doctors Receptionist is like Marmite you either love it or hate it. If you love it you will have a job for life – but be prepared for hard work. But you will also find it very rewarding.

THE WAITING ROOM

The waiting room is the core of your organisation.  It will be the main part of your working environment as a Receptionist and is often the part of a surgery in which the patients spend most time: it follows that the condition of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients, good or ill.

Before every session you could ensure that:

  • The waiting room is clean and tidy
  • Identify any hazards and report them immediately (health and safety)
  • Ensure that fire notices and leaflets are tidy and up to date.
  • Keep magazines and other reading material fairly up to date.
  • Ensure that there is nothing left lying on the floor that could possibly cause an accident.

FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENTS

If possible arrange the reception area in such a way that patients leaving the surgery must pass by the reception desk after a consultation. Patients are often preoccupied after seeing the doctor and, for example, forget to ask for a follow-up appointment.

PATIENTS

As a Receptionist you main duties will be dealing with numerous patients throughout the day. Remember the patients are the core of the Practice – without patients you would not have a job. You will have patients come into the surgery in person or speak to them over the telephone. You must remain calm at all times, be able to prioritise and ensure that you follow-up every task that you are given. If you are unable to do so then you must ensure that you pass on your tasks to another person or leave a message in the Receptionists message book.

People skills are a essential for this role.

TRANSPORT

As a receptionist you may be required to organise transport for a patient. Ensure that you are aware the procedures for arranging transport and how it works from the patient’s point of view so that you can explain these transport arrangements to them.  Please ensure that you are aware of your surgeries policy on calling 999.

Please see post on Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-iz

APPOINTMENTS

Consultation by appointment rather than queuing in the waiting room is now almost universal. The purpose of an appointments system can be good and bad. A bad system means patients have to wait a long time for an appointment and become frustrated and angry. A good appointment system work to the advantage of both Doctors and Patients.

You as a Receptionist should be encouraged to feedback to the Practice Manager/Doctors in areas that you feel could improve the system. After all it is you as a Receptionist that will identify what is going well and not so well.

Encourage patients to cancel appointments when they are not needed. DNA’s (did not attend) is the biggest problem for patients waiting on appointments – if everyone cancelled their appointment if it was not needed it would free up many appointments over the week and the month. ALWAYS thank a patient when they cancel an appointment – everyone responds well to praise.

Most important remember to cancel the appointment off the computer screen – sometimes a DNA can go against the patient if it has not been taken of the computer screen – as some Practices record all the DNA’s. Some practices even write to Patients when they have had 3 failed DNA’s – and this has lead to bad feelings when the patients have in fact telephoned the surgery to cancel their appointments.

MAIL

As a Receptionist you will probably deal with the practice mail. Incoming mail should be sorted daily and date stamped and any enclosures securely attached – and if any missing items are identified this could be recorded and followed up with the recipient.

PATHOLOGY SPECIMENS

These are samples that are sent daily to the local hospital. Every specimen HAS to be labelled corrected – and this should include the patients name, date of birth and the time the sample was taken. Often busy Doctors do not enclose all of the required information – before the Specimen box is collected by the local courier please check that all the specimens are correctly labelled.

Usually results come through electronically but some Incoming results may still come through as a paper copy – these should be either scanned, or recorded in the patients records – your practice will have a policy on this. For all results than come through via the post they should be date stamped like a normal letter.

PETTY CASH

In Reception you will require to have a small amount of cash. Patients often pay for reports completed by the Doctor, for their passports being signed and often housing letters along with other items.

Ensure that you have change – not just notes.

All petty cash should be kept in a locked petty cash box and topped up weekly or monthly. It is essential that all money taken from the petty cash box has a record showing all expenditure and receipts.

Any money taken from a patient ensure that a recepit is offered. Record the monies in the appropriate place and also record it on the patients records.

AT THE BEGINNING/END OF THE DAY

As a Receptionist you may be one of the first into the building or one of the last to leave. It is advisable to have a check list of thing to do on such occasions.

Speak to your Supervisor/Manager and if your practice has not got such a checklist perhaps with your Manager you could organise such a list – this is particularly very helpful to all new Receptionists when they start.

Some of the things that should be on your list will include:

  • Doors and windows are closed – especially all fire doors.
  • All appropriate lights are switched off
  • Appropriate electrical equipment is switched off
  • IMPORTANT: Answer phone is switched over to out of hours service
  • Alarm is set.
  • Patient notes are securely locked away.

EMERGENCIES

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency. This can be very daunting to a new Receptionist but with good training and Practice Procedures and Polices you will soon become skilled in dealing with such emergencies.

As a Receptionist you may be required to learn basic first aid. Your practice will arrange such training for you.

It may seem very daunting when you first start as a Receptionist – but no one expects you to know everything at once. Take each day as it comes – shadow a fellow Receptionist and ask questions all the time.

In my experience in hiring Receptionist it can take up to 6 months before a Receptionist is really confident – but as we all know nothing stays the same and things within the NHS and Surgeries never stay the same – there are always new procedures and changes to existing policies so at the end of the day we are learning something new all the time.

Receptionists Training: What NOT to say.


When working within a team it is vital to work with and support your fellow workers.

A good “work person” never blames his/her tools – and your team are your tool.

Here are some things you should NEVER say to a patient visitor or another member of your team.

  • You’ll have to………………………………..
  • Those people in …………………………… don’t know what they are doing.
  • That sounds like another problem we have been having
  • You shouldn’t have
  • YOU! (In its accusatory form)
  • It wasn’t me who did that it was …………………………………. (and name a person)

If a patient, customer or member of staff approach you and you identify a problem that you are unable to sort out – seek the advice or help from another member of your team or speak to your Team Leader/Supervisor or Manager – do not put the blame on someone else.  Support your fellow team members

and remember there is no  “I” in TEAM

 

A Guide to Patient Care


Patient care is vital for your Practice. You are wasting your time getting the system right if you blow it at the last-minute by rude staff, keeping someone waiting on the phone or not responding to something that has been promised.

Your Practice will be judges in the first 30 seconds of contact with the first person the patient sees. This may not be a highly paid or “senior” member of staff – but of course they ARE important because of this.

The essence of Patient Care is making every patient feel important. Do not prejudge your patients by appearance.

The first part of Patient Care is getting the basics right. These are the expected things – getting their name right, appointments being on time, giving them the service that they expect, having clean and tidy premises, smart and friendly staff etc.

If you get these right and the patient will not even notice, but if you get them wrong and they will. You will need systems and procedures for these, so they never fail.

The second part of Patient Care is the “delight”. You need to think creatively about what you can do to “delight” your patients. These are the things they do not expect. These are the things that they will tell their friends about – for example:

  1. My Surgery has A Carers Register
  2. My Surgery has a Prescription Collection System
  3. My Surgery has a Nurse Triage
  4. My Surgery will fit me in if it is an emergency
  5. I can telephone and speak the triage nurse
  6. My Surgery has a Smoke Stop Group
  7. My Surgery has a Weight Management Clinic
  8. My Surgery has a Health Visitors Clinics
  9. My Surgery has a Practice Newsletter
  10. My Surgery has a good informative noticeboard

After a while the “delights” may become expected. You will have to keep thinking of new “delights” for your patients. Discuss new “delights” at your next team meetings.

Sometimes it is a Delight to bend the rules for a patient. This needs careful management, but is unavoidable. No one likes a “Jobsworth”. Always check with your Surgery Supervisor/Manager before “bending the rules”.

Different patients want to be treated in different ways. For some it is about being dealt with quickly, others it is attention to detail, and for others it is about good friendly staff. Staff need to be trained to recognise these types of variation and adapt as necessary.

Patient Care is not just about new patients – it needs to be ongoing for existing patients too. The biggest cause of lost customers is “Perceived Indifference”. Replacing a lost patient, ie getting a new one, causes more work, ie new patient medical, registrations, sorting of notes, tagging etc. Staff need to be “warm and friendly” types rather than “cold and uncaring”.

Patient care is vital. It is important that management recruit the right people. Staff need to be friendly, and this means setting up a system to make sure that your Practice procedures are followed. Lead by example and to get moral to a level where cheerful staff are motivated to care about the patients.

Only 4% of unhappy patients complain. But the damage is done when they then tell other people negative things about the Practice. So every complaint must be taken seriously and dealt with immediately.

Complaints can be turned into a net gain if they are handled well. If a complaint is handled well share it at your next receptionist / Management meeting – talk it through with others – learn from every complaint.

Read previous blog on: Dealing with a Complaint. http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-6g

Patients need to be surveyed in order to find out what they think of your Practice. This means existing patients, and if possible non-patients (visitors to the surgery – as they too are customers). You need to know what they think is important and how you are at the important things.

Be your own mystery shopper occasionally. Try phoning in to your organisation. What are the first impressions like? Try sitting in our own reception area with some “work” and take notes on:

  1. How quickly the phones are answered?
  2. How professional / Helpful the receptionist is on the phone
  3. How does the receptionist deal with people at the front desk?
  4. Can you hear any confidential information being given out by the receptionist?
  5. How do you think the patient was treated?
  6. How good do you think “your surgery” is at Customer Care?

Read previous blog on: The Other Side of the Desk http://t.co/ZrJSw0pr

Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.