Receptionist Training: Safely Evacuating People With A Disability



Evacuation procedures should always consider the possibility that someone may need assistance during a fire evacuation and you should be aware for the eventuality.

In the event of a Fire Evacuation please be aware that there may be less abled people in the building, these may be patients, visitors or staff.

As a Receptionist it will be your duty to ensure that the Reception Area is cleared in the event of a Fire Alarm going off.

Patients that are in with the Doctor or Nurse will be the responsibility of who they are
seeing. They should escort them from their rooms and to the Fire Evacuation Meeting Point.

When planning to assist disabled persons from the building both permanent and
temporary disabilities should be considered.

Permanent Disabilities can include:

  •  Persons in wheelchairs
  • Persons that are Visually Impaired
  • Persons that have Impaired Hearing
  • Some Learning Disabilities
  • Elderly persons with walking aids
  • Elderly persons that may need assistance
  • People with arthritis or other disabilities that can lead to poor mobility.

Temporary Disabilities can include:                             

  • People with sporting injuries
  • People with broken bones (in a cast)
  • People recovering from an operation
  • Pregnant Women
  • People with serve back pain

Or other temporary disabilities

  • People with young children / pushchairs.

Some people may have a disability that is not obvious; this could cause a delay in patients evacuating the  building.

 EVACUATION OF DISABLED  PATIENTS.

Evacuation may not be necessary or advisable.

If persons with disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using
a lift, assist persons with disabilities to a safe place, this could be in a room behind a Fire Door. Never used a lift when a Fire Alarm has been activated. If this procedure has taken place make sure that the Fire Officer is aware and knows exactly where they are. This usually applies if the disabled person is on the first floor or more.

If immediate evacuation is necessary (the fire is taking hold rapidly) be aware of
the following considerations:

NON-AMBULATORY PATIENTS – WHEELCHAIR USERS.

Wheelchairs have many moving parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting. You may need to remove the chair batteries to lessen the weight. Life support
equipment may be attached. In a life-threatening emergency it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair.

Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous. If necessary, two or
three individuals may carry non-ambulatory persons from the building. Wheelchairs should not be used to descend stairwells, if at all possible. Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences.

Ways of being removed from the wheelchair

Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter leg bags, braces, etc.

Whether to carry forward or backward on a flight of stairs

Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if the wheelchair is being left behind

In lieu of a wheelchair, does the  person prefer a stretcher, chair with cushion/aid, or car seat?

Remember not to block stairwells or exits with Wheelchairs

Is paramedic assistance necessary – if so you may need to request an ambulance as well as the Fire Brigade?

ALWAYS CONSULT WITH THE PERSON IN THE CHAIR REGARDING HOW BEST TO ASSIST THEM.

 VISUALLY IMPAIRED PATIENTS.

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate surroundings.
In an emergency situation:

Describe the nature of the emergency and offer to act as the “sighted guide” –  offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place.

As  you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles. Reassure them at all times.

When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if  further assistance is needed. Again reassure them and confirm that they are safe.

HEARING IMPAIRED PATIENTS

Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative
warning technique is required. Two methods of warning:

1.  Write a note describing the emergency and escort them to the nearest evacuation
route.

2.  Turn the light switch off and on to gain their attention. Then indicate through
gestures what is happening and what to do.

 PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Some patients with learning disabilities are often with Carers and they will be able to guide
them to safety. If the Carer has more than one Patient you might need to help them evacuate the building.

We cannot always know if someone has a learning disability as they cope extremely
well with day-to-day situations. But in the event of an emergency it could lead to panic or stress for the patient.

Some people with learning disabilities may come to your organisation on their own, and normally deal with day-to-day issues extremely well. But in the event of an emergency this may cause them to panic – If you see someone who seems to be getting stressed go over  and help them to the Emergency Exit.

Reassure them as much as you can. When they are safely out of the building ask someone to stand with them until it is safe to go back into the building again.

ELDERLY PATIENTS

Elderly persons can often get confused; they are slower in their reactions and can
often have medical problems that are not obvious. If you see elderly people in
the reception area guide them towards the Emergency Exit.

Although it is important to get them out of the building as quickly as possibly you will
need to understand they are not going to act as quickly as you.

TEMPORARY DISABLED PATIENTS

Pregnant WomanIf a woman is near the end of her pregnancy this could slow her down. She may also have other small children including a buggy with her, so if you identify this please make sure that someone assists her.

 Small Children – Some people may have more than one child with them and often a buggy, it is important that you direct them to the exit. In the event of a lot of people trying to evacuate through one exit it might be necessary to ask them to leave the buggy behind and help them get the small children out safely.

It is important to keep the children calm and not to frighten them in any way.

Sports Injuries – There might be patients in the waiting room with sports injuries; this may include patients that have broken legs, arms, back problems sprains or someone with a walking stick. It may be necessary to assist them from the building.

Generally  Unwell Patients – Patients that are generally unwell might find it difficult in an emergency with all patients if you see someone who is having some difficulties please ask them if they need assistance.

 Don’t be alarmed by the above; these are many Scenarios but hopefully won’t all be in the waiting room all at the same time!!!

Has your workplace got a policy in place for safely evacuating people safely from the building?

Have you got enough signs around your building for an Evacuation Meeting Point”?

Does your organisation have regular Fire Training? Would you know what to do in the event of an Evacuation?

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Receptionist Training: Safely Evacuating People With A Disability



Evacuation procedures should always consider the possibility that someone may need assistance during a fire evacuation and you should be aware for the eventuality.

In the event of a Fire Evacuation please be aware that there may be less abled people in the building, these may be patients, visitors or staff.

As a Receptionist it will be your duty to ensure that the Reception Area is cleared in the event of a Fire Alarm going off.

Patients that are in with the Doctor or Nurse will be the responsibility of who they are
seeing. They should escort them from their rooms and to the Fire Evacuation Meeting Point.

When planning to assist disabled persons from the building both permanent and
temporary disabilities should be considered.

Permanent Disabilities can include:

  •  Persons in wheelchairs
  • Persons that are Visually Impaired
  • Persons that have Impaired Hearing
  • Some Learning Disabilities
  • Elderly persons with walking aids
  • Elderly persons that may need assistance
  • People with arthritis or other disabilities that can lead to poor mobility.

Temporary Disabilities can include:                             

  • People with sporting injuries
  • People with broken bones (in a cast)
  • People recovering from an operation
  • Pregnant Women
  • People with serve back pain

Or other temporary disabilities

  • People with young children / pushchairs.

Some people may have a disability that is not obvious; this could cause a delay in patients evacuating the  building.

 EVACUATION OF DISABLED  PATIENTS.

Evacuation may not be necessary or advisable.

If persons with disabilities cannot be transported from the building without using
a lift, assist persons with disabilities to a safe place, this could be in a room behind a Fire Door. Never used a lift when a Fire Alarm has been activated. If this procedure has taken place make sure that the Fire Officer is aware and knows exactly where they are. This usually applies if the disabled person is on the first floor or more.

If immediate evacuation is necessary (the fire is taking hold rapidly) be aware of
the following considerations:

NON-AMBULATORY PATIENTS – WHEELCHAIR USERS.

Wheelchairs have many moving parts; some are not designed to withstand stress or lifting. You may need to remove the chair batteries to lessen the weight. Life support
equipment may be attached. In a life-threatening emergency it may be necessary to remove an individual from their wheelchair.

Lifting a person with minimal ability to move may be dangerous. If necessary, two or
three individuals may carry non-ambulatory persons from the building. Wheelchairs should not be used to descend stairwells, if at all possible. Non-ambulatory persons may have respiratory complications. Remove them from smoke or fumes immediately and determine their needs and preferences.

Ways of being removed from the wheelchair

Whether to extend or move extremities when lifting because of pain, catheter leg bags, braces, etc.

Whether to carry forward or backward on a flight of stairs

Whether a seat cushion or pad should be brought along if the wheelchair is being left behind

In lieu of a wheelchair, does the  person prefer a stretcher, chair with cushion/aid, or car seat?

Remember not to block stairwells or exits with Wheelchairs

Is paramedic assistance necessary – if so you may need to request an ambulance as well as the Fire Brigade?

ALWAYS CONSULT WITH THE PERSON IN THE CHAIR REGARDING HOW BEST TO ASSIST THEM.

 VISUALLY IMPAIRED PATIENTS.

Most visually impaired persons will be familiar with their immediate surroundings.
In an emergency situation:

Describe the nature of the emergency and offer to act as the “sighted guide” –  offer your elbow and escort him/her to a safe place.

As  you walk, describe where you are and advise of any obstacles. Reassure them at all times.

When you have reached safety, orient the person as to where you are and ask if  further assistance is needed. Again reassure them and confirm that they are safe.

HEARING IMPAIRED PATIENTS

Because persons with impaired hearing may not perceive emergency alarms, an alternative
warning technique is required. Two methods of warning:

1.  Write a note describing the emergency and escort them to the nearest evacuation
route.

2.  Turn the light switch off and on to gain their attention. Then indicate through
gestures what is happening and what to do.

 PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Some patients with learning disabilities are often with Carers and they will be able to guide
them to safety. If the Carer has more than one Patient you might need to help them evacuate the building.

We cannot always know if someone has a learning disability as they cope extremely
well with day-to-day situations. But in the event of an emergency it could lead to panic or stress for the patient.

Some people with learning disabilities may come to your organisation on their own, and normally deal with day-to-day issues extremely well. But in the event of an emergency this may cause them to panic – If you see someone who seems to be getting stressed go over  and help them to the Emergency Exit.

Reassure them as much as you can. When they are safely out of the building ask someone to stand with them until it is safe to go back into the building again.

ELDERLY PATIENTS

Elderly persons can often get confused; they are slower in their reactions and can
often have medical problems that are not obvious. If you see elderly people in
the reception area guide them towards the Emergency Exit.

Although it is important to get them out of the building as quickly as possibly you will
need to understand they are not going to act as quickly as you.

TEMPORARY DISABLED PATIENTS

Pregnant WomanIf a woman is near the end of her pregnancy this could slow her down. She may also have other small children including a buggy with her, so if you identify this please make sure that someone assists her.

 Small Children – Some people may have more than one child with them and often a buggy, it is important that you direct them to the exit. In the event of a lot of people trying to evacuate through one exit it might be necessary to ask them to leave the buggy behind and help them get the small children out safely.

It is important to keep the children calm and not to frighten them in any way.

Sports Injuries – There might be patients in the waiting room with sports injuries; this may include patients that have broken legs, arms, back problems sprains or someone with a walking stick. It may be necessary to assist them from the building.

Generally  Unwell Patients – Patients that are generally unwell might find it difficult in an emergency with all patients if you see someone who is having some difficulties please ask them if they need assistance.

 Don’t be alarmed by the above; these are many Scenarios but hopefully won’t all be in the waiting room all at the same time!!!

Has your workplace got a policy in place for safely evacuating people safely from the building?

Have you got enough signs around your building for an Evacuation Meeting Point”?

Does your organisation have regular Fire Training? Would you know what to do in the event of an Evacuation?

The Importance of Giving Your Change of Address


I have written about policies and procedures and the importance of them – let me share an experience I had while working as a Manager – and the importance of ensuring that every job is carried out no matter how each and every one of them carried out responsible jobs, dealt with difficult people at times as well as at times grumpy doctors.

Some people see a Doctors Receptionist role as a “cushy little number” after all they just sit behind the desk booking people in and making appointments. If only!!!

Each and every Receptionist is constantly running around like headless chickens. Often not stopping for a cuppa and working through lunch breaks to get their jobs done. On top of being at the Reception Desk booking patients in and answering the telephone they also have individual tasks to deal with. Prescriptions to be sorted and printed ready for the Doctors to sign.  Preparing Medical Reports for the Doctors to sign, ensuring that all relevant claims forms are sent into the local Health Authority, ensuring that all clinics are set up correcting onto the computer system (and usually when they have done this a Doctor or Nurse will decided that they want holidays and it all has to be changed again) Inputting data to ensure that patients are monitored and recalled to the Surgery for checks such as Blood Pressure, Diabetics, Heart, and many more clinics – scanning and the never ending job of filing – the jobs are just endless.

One of the jobs that are allocated to a Receptionist is “change of address”. This is when a patient moves house. They will come in and advise us that they have moved. They will be asked to complete a form and this would then be given to the appropriate Receptionist to change on the computer and the patients notes.

This was seen as one of the less important jobs – and the Receptionist doing this job worked 3 days a week – so often a change of address could often be in her tray for a few days – and longer if she was on holiday.

That was until…………………………..

A patient came into the surgery to see the Doctor – she was 35 years of age a wife and mother of 2 children. She was complaining of stomach pains. The doctor examined her and felt it would be best to refer her to the local hospital for more tests.

The doctor dictated the letter while the patient was sitting in front of her.

The patient came out of the surgery and went to the front desk to book another appointment and then informed the Receptionist that she had in fact moved – the Receptionist asked her to complete the appropriate form and put the form into the Receptionists tray that dealt with the changes of addresses.

Later on that afternoon the secretary typed out the letter to the hospital that the Doctor had dictated. Can you see what happened next?????

The letter went to the hospital with the patients old address on as it had not been changed on the computer or the patients notes.

The patient came back to the Doctor about 6 weeks later saying that she was feeling worse and still had not heard from the Hospital.

The Doctor telephoned the hospital and after a while it was discovered that the hospital had written to her old address with an appointment and she failed to attend they never follow-up on failed appointments.

The doctor at this point was extremely worried and asked for the patient to been seen asap. She was and it was discovered that she had stomach cancer.

The paitent underwent surgery and treatment but sadly died some months later.

Her husband came in to see me some weeks after her death to ask what had happened and why they letter had gone to their old address.

I was mortified – I just felt so awful for this poor man – left without his wife and now had two children to care for that had lost their mum.

He said that he was not there to put blame on anyone – he just wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen to another family – he said that the hospital had indicated that she had the cancer for some time – but as he said – what might have been if she had been seen earlier. And I must admit I could fully understand what he was saying.

I assured him that I would look into our procedures and I promised him that nothing like this would ever happen again. He  left the surgery a devastated man – I went up to my office and cried – it was just awful.

So, from that day on our policy on “Change of Address” changed. Every single Receptionist as soon as she was given a change of address it was to be entered onto the computer system and the patients notes immediately.

It goes to show that this “little” job was so so important and could not be left a moment longer than necessary no matter how small you might think it is at the time.

The Receptionists at the Surgery always worked extremely hard – long hours and for nothing more than just above the minimum wage – I always said that these girls were worth their weight in gold – more than a Receptionist and should have been recognised for this.

So for any Doctors Receptionist/Manger reading this please adopt this policy and ensure that whenever you have a patient change of address its done immediate.

And

If you are a patient reading this and you move house PLEASE inform your Doctors Surgery immediately.

I also discovered over the years that many patients moved house and never ever let their surgery know – patients either forget or don’t think its important. So regular notices in your Surgery to remind patients to let you know if they change address or telephone numbers is also a good start to ensuring that you have their up to date information.