How do you thank you staff at Christmas?


How do you or your Practice thank your staff? Do you tell them on a regular basis or keep it to once a year at Christmas?

In my experience you will get far more from people if they are shown thanks and appreciation and it doesn’t have to cost very much either.

Here is how I used to say “thank you” to my staff.

Daily Basis

  • When I was leaving the surgery of an evening I would always take time to go into Reception, ask if everything was ok before leaving and as I left always say “thank you for all your help today”.
  • If I needed to go to one of the other surgeries to see one of the Doctors or the Surgery Team Leader I would always make a point of showing my face in Reception – I always wanted to be approachable and let the Receptionists know that I was always there for them. Again when I left to go back to my own office I would always thank everyone as I left.
  • At the end of any Team Meetings I would always thank everyone for coming .

One off Basis

  • When someone did something that stood out and was beyond their job description I would speak to the Practice Manager and she was in agreement we would get the Staff Partner to say “thank you” in the form of a letter. This letter could then be put on their CV and used in their next appraisals (when again it could be brought up).  This was not something that I did very often – so when a member of staff did receive a letter it was obvious that they had been praised for their good work. If the incident was appropriate and with the permission of the Receptionist receiving the letter I would use the incident in the next staff training.
  • If a Receptionist was having a baby or getting married I would organise a baby shower and the Receptionists would get together over lunchtime and have a good laugh. This was great for team work as they would organise the lunch, the presents and work together on making sure it was a great shower.
  • If an older Receptionist became a grandmother I would always send them a congratulations card.
  • If a member of staff was off on long-term sick I would always send them a get well card and tell them how much they were being missed.

Yearly Basis

  • My Practice Manage would send each surgery a Christmas card – I would send one to each individual member of staff thanking them for all their hard work throughout the year. To me this was very important to let each member of staff know how much I appreciated their hard work that year.
  • I would also get a personal present for each of the Surgery Team Leaders at Christmas – just a small token but again to thank them for all their efforts over the year, and let’s face it I could not have done my job as well as I did without their support and hard work.
  • The Practice would give the staff a Christmas Party – usually in the form of a Dinner Dance – this really can keep moral going – and everyone was always on a high for a few days after – staff very much appreciated the Practice doing this for them.
  • The Practice would also give the staff gift vouchers every Christmas – again this was extremely kind of the Partners to do this and again the staff always really appreciated this.

So, it does not have to cost a fortune to say “thank you” but it can be worth its weight in gold.

How do you thank you staff?

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

 

Smoking in the workplace


versus

I had an interesting 3 way discussion over recently – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.

I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.

The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.

The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift  – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.

She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.

I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.

The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer.  She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.

The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.

They both asked me what I thought.

It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?

It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.

This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.

Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.

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.

Smoking in the workplace


versus

I had an interesting 3 way discussion over Christmas – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.

I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.

The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.

The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift  – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.

She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.

I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.

The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer.  She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.

The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.

They both asked me what I thought.

It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?

It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.

This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.

Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.

 

How do you thank you staff at Christmas?


How do you or your Practice thank your staff? Do you tell them on a regular basis or keep it to once a year at Christmas?

In my experience you will get far more from people if they are shown thanks and appreciation and it doesn’t have to cost very much either.

Here is how I used to say “thank you” to my staff.

Daily Basis

  • When I was leaving the surgery of an evening I would always take time to go into Reception, ask if everything was ok before leaving and as I left always say “thank you for all your help today”.
  • If I needed to go to one of the other surgeries to see one of the Doctors or the Surgery Team Leader I would always make a point of showing my face in Reception – I always wanted to be approachable and let the Receptionists know that I was always there for them. Again when I left to go back to my own office I would always thank everyone as I left.
  • At the end of any Team Meetings I would always thank everyone for coming .

One off Basis

  • When someone did something that stood out and was beyond their job description I would speak to the Practice Manager and she was in agreement we would get the Staff Partner to say “thank you” in the form of a letter. This letter could then be put on their CV and used in their next appraisals (when again it could be brought up).  This was not something that I did very often – so when a member of staff did receive a letter it was obvious that they had been praised for their good work. If the incident was appropriate and with the permission of the Receptionist receiving the letter I would use the incident in the next staff training.
  • If a Receptionist was having a baby or getting married I would organise a baby shower and the Receptionists would get together over lunchtime and have a good laugh. This was great for team work as they would organise the lunch, the presents and work together on making sure it was a great shower.
  • If an older Receptionist became a grandmother I would always send them a congratulations card.
  • If a member of staff was off on long-term sick I would always send them a get well card and tell them how much they were being missed.

Yearly Basis

  • My Practice Manage would send each surgery a Christmas card – I would send one to each individual member of staff thanking them for all their hard work throughout the year. To me this was very important to let each member of staff know how much I appreciated their hard work that year.
  • I would also get a personal present for each of the Surgery Team Leaders at Christmas – just a small token but again to thank them for all their efforts over the year, and let’s face it I could not have done my job as well as I did without their support and hard work.
  • The Practice would give the staff a Christmas Party – usually in the form of a Dinner Dance – this really can keep moral going – and everyone was always on a high for a few days after – staff very much appreciated the Practice doing this for them.
  • The Practice would also give the staff gift vouchers every Christmas – again this was extremely kind of the Partners to do this and again the staff always really appreciated this.

So, it does not have to cost a fortune to say “thank you” but it can be worth its weight in gold.

How do you thank you staff?

 

When a Patient Dies


Does your Surgery have a policy when a patient dies?

You might ask why you might need a policy on this – but it is extremely important in various areas. Let me share these with you.

When one of your patients dies you will probably be notified by one of the following

  • A member of family or a friend
  • A Carer
  • The local hospital (usually comes in the form of a letter or fax)
  • The Out Of Hours Service
  • A Nursing Home (this will normally come via a telephone call)
  • The Health Visitor from your own Surgery (if they were caring for the patient at home)
  • Local Health Authority (the patient might had died in another area/country)
  • You might see it in the local paper under the births deaths column.

COMPUTERS RECORDS

The next step is to record the death on your computer records. If your system does not do all of these automatically you will need to ensure that they are taken off.  Ensure that the patient is taken off any clinics that might generate recall letters such as

  • Flu Clinic
  • Diabetic Clinic
  • Asthma Clinic
  • Blood Pressure Clinics and so on.

If your surgery is mostly computer run it is still very important to make sure that an entry is made in the paper notes.

How does your Surgery record patient deaths?

TRUE STORY

I worked in a surgery before we have our death protocol in place where a very upset wife phoned to say that a letter had been sent out to her husband to have his flu vaccination done – he had died 3 months before. Although someone had entered that he was deceased on his records he had not been taken off the flu recall.

Link up any close member of their family and add to their records that they have been recently bereaved – this will help the Doctor if a member of the family comes in to see them. There is nothing worse than the Doctor asking after the deceased patient. And believe me this has happened on several occasions.

Ensure than any future surgery appointments are cancelled.

Remove patient details for any routine repeat prescriptions.

TRUE STORY

It is important that you put a stop to any further prescriptions – I am happy to say that it didn’t happen at my Surgery but there have been surgeries that have had people coming in to request repeat prescriptions for deceased patients and because they had not got a policy in place the prescriptions were issued – several times

Who you should informed of the deceased patients death will depend on where the patient died.

If The deceased Patient dies at home / or other place please check to see if they have any future hospital appointments booked.

The  most important thing you should check with your local hospital to see if they had any outstanding hospital appointments.

Ask the hospital to check if the deceased patient had any hospital transport booked. Why?

TRUE STORY

Again before our Surgery policy was put in place we had a deceased patient who’s funeral was taking place one Thursday morning – the wife of the deceased heard a knock at the door and thinking it was the undertakers she opened the door to find that hospital transport was there to take the deceased patient for his hospital appointment. Now can you see the importance of ensuring that all future appointments are cancelled?

WHO YOU SHOULD INFORM WITHIN THE SURGERY?

It is important for all staff to be made aware of the death of any patient. How do you record the death of a patient in your surgery?

  • Inform the Doctor
  • Inform the Health Visitor (in the event of a child or pregnant mother)
  • Inform the Health Visitor (in the event that they were due to start visiting the patient)
  • Inform any other healthcare professional that might have a reason to be in contact with the deceased patient.

The best way for this is to send an internal email – and if necessary put it in the message book.

When we reviewed our policy on deceased patients I designed a form that had to be completed. We had a member of staff that had the responsibility of ensuring that everyone was informed of the death. Each section had to be completed or ticked and at the end of the form a surgery supervisor had to sign it too – and this copy was then scanned onto the patient’s records and the paper copy placed in their medical records.

You can design your own form but an idea on what we had on our form:

  • Patients Name and Address
  • DOB (date of birth)
  • Place of Death (ie home/hospital/other)
  • Computer code entered (RIP code)
  • Deduction Requested (deduction from surgery list)
  • Next of Kin (entry made on their notes)
  • Hospital Notified – if applicable (I recommend that this should be done in a fax/email and not verbal.)
  • Hospital Transport Cancelled
  • Surgery Appointments cancelled
  • Doctor informed
  • Health Visitor Informed
  • District Nurse Informed
  • Other staff informed
  • Prescriptions Stopped
  • RIP Message on Notes
  • Records returned to the Health Authority
  • Any other areas that might be applicable to your Surgery

 I hope you have found this helpful. The important thing is to ensure that family / friends are not subjected to any more upset because their loved ones are still on your surgery system as still living.

REMEMBER:  This will be the last thing you will do for the deceased patient – show them the dignity they deserve.

I did go on to have an “alert” board where we also put this information. You can read this on  my blog :

Patients With Special Needs (Special Needs Board) http://t.co/wnWKmxHV