It’s no fun telling a client we don’t have a doctor available.
Clients have said to me, ‘well, aren’t you a doctor’s surgery?’ Yes, we are. But we don’t always have GPs available. The majority of our doctors work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with limited availability on Thursday and Friday.
I understand their frustration. We’re frustrated too. We wish we had more doctors, but we don’t.
One way to alleviate this pressure is to make sure clients book their appointments in advance. And keep their appointments!
We know that for many of them, forward booking appointments can feel overwhelming, and unavoidable circumstances force them to miss their appointments, but we encourage them at the end of each appointment to book for the next one.
Sometimes, I print a list of all the clients that have attended in a week, cross check what medications they are on, and if they don’t have an appointment booked before their script ends, book them in. This is a really time consuming process.
Inevitably, we always receive those last minute, urgent calls from clients on a Thursday or Friday, needing a methadone script.
We really do go out of our way to find a solution and to help. But I once had a client say to me, ‘you guys are the reason I’m going to have to use.’ I know it’s not true, but that was hard to hear. After all, I didn’t get into this job to say ‘no’ to people, I want to help.
Thankfully, that is rare as our clients know that rude or aggressive behaviour is not welcome at First Step.
For most of our clients, when they arrive and see a welcoming smile, their face lights up. And it’s the same for us. We get to know them and want to have meaningful interactions. For some, we might be the only interaction they get all day, so we want that to be positive.
We know that our clients are appreciative of the care and support they receive. We want to remind them to be patient, to book their appointments in advance and remember we’re doing the best we can.
And of course, the clients that really make us happy are the ones that bring in their dogs!
Stephanie Casey, Receptionist