I recently had the honour of working with two local GP Practices, helping to train their reception staff in communication skills and strategies to help in their day to day duties.
While designing these workshops I became very failure with the difficulties front line staff face day in and day out.
One of the most important parts of a receptionist’s job is to help direct patients to the most appropriate health care professional to help then with their problems while using the practice’s resources in the most efficient manner.
When only a handful of embargoed appointments are available each day and routine appointments are often booked up for the next three weeks, not squandering a GP consultation on something that would better be suited to a nurse appointment, phone consultation or pharmacy visit is vital.
However, research by Cancer Research UK has shown that patients are less than willing to discuss the nature of their health complaint.

When asked, 40% of patients said they disliked having to discuss their ills with office staff in order to get an appointment.

Staff perception of how they would enjoy role-playing before the workshop.

After meeting with the practice manager and her assistant, we decided on the number of trainers needed to run the workshop, who would facilitate the session (the trainers or practice staff) and the elements that would go into the workshop, which would include not only role-play, but forum theatre used as an interactive demonstration. This would hopefully set the participants at ease as they were expected to be very nervous about performing in front of their colleagues.

I then set about booking the other trainer for the session, designing the workshop, writing the scenarios and creating the interactive demo, ready to be signed off by the practice.
The day of the workshop, it was clear to see that the reception staff were very uneasy about the idea of role-playing. several members of staff had asked to be excused or said they didn’t want to take part but after some reassurance, all 16 were there for the introduction.
Within minutes of the demo beginning, they were all offering suggestions as to how the scene they had watched acted out between a receptionist and a patient could be changed to achieve a more positive outcome and were discussing different strategies with us as trainers and amongst themselves as a group.
Staff feelings toward role-playing after the workshop.

After splitting the cohort into two groups we began running through the scenarios and thankfully everyone was at ease enough to take part. We covered phone conversations, face to face conversations, angry patients, uncooperative patients, demanding patients and much more. After each scenario, we, as trainers, would facilitate a discussion with the participant and the group about the positive skills they had used as well as opportunities to improve and would replay segments or the whole conversation to highlight the learning objectives. By the end of the workshop, every participant had a lot of positive things to say about the new skills they had learnt and reinforced.

  • More confident 75%
  • Better equipped to deal with angry patients 100%
  • Know how to ask tricky questions 75%
  • Can better see the patients perspective 50%
  • Better equipped to deal with demanding patients 75%
  • Feel I can do my job better 50%
  • Less confident 0%
  • Worry I’m doing things wrong 0%
  • No effect 0%

%

Staff response to being asked if they learned valuable skills from the workshop.

After receiving highly positive feedback from the practice and the receptionists it seems clear to me that this training workshop would benefit any medical practice in the country. I don’t doubt that by sharing the skills of each team member, reinforcing good practice and teaching new communication strategies, the job satisfaction of staff and the patient experience can both be greatly improved.

After further work, three variations of the workshop have been created to suit any practice and budget.

Book a Communication Skills Workshop for your Reception Staff

If you have questions about the possibilities of a workshop or have special requirements that need to be taken into account then Please get in touch to discuss your needs and request a personalised quote.

*Quoted prices include VAT but may not include travel expences. Please request a personalised quote.

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