Building an effective partnership with patients is the responsibility of the practice as a whole. As the first point of contact, practice staff play a vital part in establishing the overall relationship with the patient. Just as important is the provision of information to patients and the resultant feedback.
- Ensure your practice is friendly and culturally sensitive
- Provide quality prevention information
- Ask patients about their prevention interests and needs.
Front desk contact and the practice environment are the beginning of partnerships with patients. Practice staff that are friendly and helpful and who can respond appropriately to cultural differences, language barriers, and literacy problems, make a significant impression on patients. Make patients feel comfortable in reception and waiting areas.
Knitting while you wait
How about knitting while you wait? The staff at one practice have started ‘waiting room knitting’ with wool donated from local shops for patients to knit while waiting. The patients knit simple squares that are then joined together by volunteers to give to residential aged care facilities, hospitals and to raffle off for charity.
Jo Heslin, Denis Medical Centre, Yarrawonga, Victoria
Men’s health promotion in a rural setting
In a rural practice, men usually only present if they are very sick, so the ‘Belts and bearings check for men’, was created. The division offered support by designing posters for the practice to place around town and by arranging a media release in local newspapers and in school newsletters. The practice’s waiting room was adjusted to appeal more to men. Male patients made 45 minute appointments (of which 20 minutes was with the PN and 25 minutes with the GP). The ‘Dad’s day’ campaign questionnaire from Andrology Australia was used as the basis for the consultation; but men were free to ask any questions about their health. The community health centre advertised this as well, referring people to the practice and offering support (by providing healthy snacks and posters relevant to men in the waiting area). The clinic operated later than usual to cater for men who were employed. The clinic was rapidly booked up, so a second clinic was arranged. The timing of the clinic had to suit patients by avoiding busy times (eg. harvest or cropping, and most importantly, football training nights!). The clinics proved an overwhelming success, with many men seeing a GP for the first time in years. The atmosphere was social and relaxed, which was great advertising for future attendances.
Wendy Brand, West Victorian Division of General Practice, Victoria www.westvicdiv.asn.au