Signposting – Have you got it right?


Unknown

 

I accompanied an elderly friend to the hospital yesterday. She had to go to see the neurologist.

I went with her as a friend but to also support her as she is in a lot of pain and finding walking difficult.

Parking as in most hospitals was pretty awful; we were lucky to find a space and then made our way into the hospital with plenty of time before her appointment was due. We entered the large outpatients department and found that they had completely reorganised the main area. There used to be an information desk, this now replaced by a super new coffee shop.

There was no sign to direct us to the neurology department so I stopped and asked two maintenance men who were deep in conversation propping up the door. One of them told us we had to follow the corridor to the end through the double doors and turn right, into the new part of the building. So off we went.

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We went through the double doors, and there were no signs of our destination. So I asked another member of staff, she sent us back the way we had come, and once again we ended up somewhere that certainly wasn’t neurology.

I then asked a 3rd person who actually told us truthfully that they had no idea where it was, by this point my friend was starting to struggle with her walking, I sat her down and asked a 4thperson. This member of staff asked me to follow her and she took me directly to the department which was situated right beside the two maintenance men who were still there chatting. I went back and collected my friend and we made our way back to check in.

We waited at the empty reception desk, still not confident that we were in the right department, and the time was fast coming up to her appointment,my friend started getting anxious as she does not like to be late.

The Receptionist finally arrived, apologised for keeping us waiting and asked her name. Thank goodness we were in fact in the right place – more by chance I might like to add.

I asked the Receptionist why there was a lack of signposting and she told me that there were several outpatients clinics held there on a daily/weekly basis and they would be unable to list them all, and often they change to other parts of the department.

So, Hospitals, large GP Surgeries and Health Clinics please ensure that your signposting is user-friendly and if for some reason if have not got a help desk, or you cannot put up the correct signs, please think of putting directions on the appointment letters, and perhaps appropriate training for staff in how to deal with patients/visitors when they are asking for directions. If staff are not fully confident that they know where the departments are, then tell the patient that, please don’t send them on a wild goose chase like we were yesterday.

Large buildings that have lack of signposting can often be confusing to the elderly and the disabled.

 

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Appointments


When Making an Appointment

It is important when making an appointment for a patient that you are clear about the time, date and even the month.  Often hospital appointments can be months in
advance.

If the patient is booking their appointment in person at the reception desk always try and make an appointment convenient to the patient.

Often if you give an appointment and it’s not convenient that the patient will either not turn up or phone to cancel and re book. Try to get it right first time.

When you book an appointment at the reception desk always give the patient an appointment card – or put the appointment on a piece of paper.

Often patients will “insist” that they will remember their appointment but quite often they will end up phoning to check when it is – or worse still not turn up.

Always put on the appointment card

  • The day       (Monday)
  • The date     (16th)
  • The month  (September) and
  • The time      (11.00 am)
  • Who the appointment is with (Dr / Nurse / other)

If the patient is making the appointment over the telephone again please give clear instructions on when their appointment is. Again repeat as above.

If you don’t give the day  (Monday)  quite often people will get their date (16th) mixed up and often turn up the day before or after – this is quite a common thing especially some  elderly people.  People will remember a day rather than a date.

When giving an appointment over the telephone always speak slowly and clearly – the person on the other end of the phone might be writing it down.

At the end of the conversation ask if they are happy with the appointment – this will give them every opportunity if they are anyway unsure.

Every Doctors Surgery and Hospital have a high volume of DNA’s (Did not attend) each day and every day through the year. Therefore it is essential to try and avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding over appointments.

When making ANY appointment always make sure that you have the correct patient. You will often have patients have the same name or similar names. If unsure ask for DOB (date
of birth). But please remember confidentiality at all times.