At The Receptionist, we love to tout the benefits of a digital check-in process.
Long-term care facilities, however, really benefit from a friendly face at the front desk. Long-term care is a people-focused industry, and the people who come through your doors throughout the day may not feel comfortable with more modern visitor check-in systems. Perhaps more importantly, though, they may be more likely to be feeling stressed out, confused, or vulnerable and will need the warmth and intuition that only another human can provide.
So, when it’s time to hire a receptionist for your long-term care facility, you should do so slowly and carefully.
Nursing Home Receptionist Duties and Responsibilities
First and foremost, here is a quick rundown of the duties and responsibilities of a nursing home or long-term care facility:
- Greeting and Assisting Visitors: Welcoming visitors, residents, and family members with a friendly and helpful attitude. Providing information about the nursing home’s services, visiting hours, and relevant policies.
- Answering Phones and Managing Inquiries: Handling incoming phone calls, taking messages, and directing calls to the appropriate staff members or departments. Addressing inquiries about the facility, resident status, and general information.
- Check-in and Check-out Procedures: Managing the sign-in and sign-out process for visitors, ensuring they follow the established protocols. Logging visitors’ details and issuing visitor badges.
- Scheduling Appointments: Assisting in scheduling appointments for residents to meet with medical staff, therapists, or other healthcare professionals.
- Mail and Package Handling: Receiving, sorting, and distributing incoming mail and packages. Arranging outgoing mail and packages for pickup or delivery.
- Maintaining Records: Keeping accurate records of visitors, deliveries, and appointments. Updating resident information and ensuring confidentiality of sensitive data.
- Emergency Response: Being prepared to handle emergency situations, such as contacting emergency services or notifying appropriate staff in case of an emergency or security concern.
- Assisting Residents: Providing basic assistance to residents, such as helping them with forms, directing them to common areas, or answering general questions.
- Coordinating with Staff: Communicating with nursing home staff, including nurses, caregivers, and administrators, to ensure effective coordination of activities and information.
- Maintaining Reception Area: Keeping the reception area clean, organized, and presentable. Ensuring that reading materials and other amenities for visitors are readily available.
- Technology and Administrative Support: Utilizing computer systems and software to manage resident records, appointments, and other administrative tasks. Assisting with data entry and paperwork as needed.
- Crisis Management: Being prepared to handle difficult or upset visitors in a professional and empathetic manner.
- Adherence to Policies and Regulations: Ensuring compliance with nursing home policies, safety guidelines, and relevant regulations.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Demonstrating cultural awareness and sensitivity while interacting with residents and visitors from diverse backgrounds.
- Training and Orientation: Assisting new employees or volunteers with orientation to the nursing home and explaining receptionist procedures and protocols.
Qualities to Look For:
Approachability and Friendliness
Receptionists play a special role in any business as the face of an organization, and long-term care facilities are no exception.
First impressions are important, and can make the difference in attracting new residents and keeping existing residents happy by making a good impression on family members and other visitors.
If you get someone working at the front desk who lets a bad mood or a bit of stress completely hijack their ability to greet visitors with a smile, it can have snowballing negative effects on company culture and on the way people experience their time at your long-term care facility.
Friendliness is not just a soft skill, at least in this role. It should be a core competency. In job interviews, look for body language such as good eye contact and relaxed posture, the ability to listen attentively and not interrupt, and the ability to navigate small talk with ease.
Of course, no one can be expected to keep a smile on their face at all times, and part of the job of making sure employees feel satisfied and happy when they come to work is also a responsibility of managers, who must keep receptionists’ workloads and working conditions reasonable, and their pay and benefits competitive.
You could argue that it’s much easier to maintain a friendly demeanor throughout small talk and routine office interactions then it is to maintain a sense of calm and warmth even when visitors may be upset or agitated. Anyone who works in a customer-facing role needs to exhibit a lot of patience and compassion, but we think this is especially true for long-term care facilities employees.
Senior residents may become confused or agitated, especially if your facility specializes in memory care services. There will also be plenty of visitors who will be emotional during their visit due to news of their loved ones’ care or health conditions.
Front desk staff are usually the ones to field such concerns, worries, and emotions firsthand, so they must be relatively comfortable deescalating emotionally fraught situations when they do occur.
De-escalation requires a healthy dose of empathy. People who are upset generally don’t calm down until they feel someone has truly heard their concerns and understands what they are feeling.
You can ask job candidates about how they have handled these kinds of emotional situations in the past, or you can simply observe if they react to the interviewer’s own anecdotes with empathy.
Attention to Detail
Most long-term care facilities put their front desk workers in charge of much more than just visitor check-in and customer care. They may also be in charge of recordkeeping, paperwork, compliance initiatives, and other administrative tasks.
Because of this, you’ll need to hire someone who is organized and fastidious in addition to being warm and empathetic.
The best receptionists employ procedures and protocols to make sure that they don’t lose track of important documents and data.
To look for this skill in the job interview process, you can ask applicants how they’ve handled records in the past, or any time they’ve taken initiative in an organizational sense in an office environment.
You may even be able to devise a simple test by asking them to present how they’d create a process for managing the records that typically come across the front desk.
Willingness to Take Ownership of Safety Initiatives
As we wrote in our post What Does Office Administration Look Like Post-Pandemic?, front office administrators have had to take on a lot of new responsibilities in the era of COVID-19. Many long-term care facilities keep some of the pandemic-inspired policies and procedures for the long-term, as well.
Front desk staff are often the very best choice to protect residents against the threat of disease by screening visitors and enforcing health and sanitation policies.
As the facility’s gatekeepers, receptionists are also ideally suited to manage safety initiatives such as facility evacuation procedures and medical emergency procedures.
For this reason, the best long-term care facility receptionist candidates will understand that their role isn’t a passive one where they just wait for cues from higher ups. They’ll be willing to proactively improve safety and sanitation measures on behalf of residents and visitors.
Ask job candidates about times they’ve taken initiatives in the past, or ideas for how the current policies could be improved.
Comfort with Technology
In the past, receptionists at long-term care facilities may not have had to be particularly tech-savvy, but that’s changing as long-term care facilities embrace the benefits of technology for both employees and residents.
As we wrote in our post on The Future of Long-Term Care Facility Visitation Policies, long-term care facility residents will increasingly expect strong WiFi connections, and their families will increasingly expect to be able to chat with residents via video.
Plus, tech tools like tablet-based visitor check-in apps like The Receptionist for iPad are automating what used to be tedious and error-prone administrative paperwork. Hiring a receptionist who isn’t looking forward to taking advantage of these tools can make front desk management more difficult in the long run.
To assess their comfort level with digital tools, you can ask which ones they use on a daily basis and which ones they’ve used professionally in the past.
Summing up: Blending Great Hires and Great Tech
Adding check-in software to your long-term care facility benefits receptionists and front desk staff by streamlining the check-in process, enhancing security and compliance, automating notifications, reducing paperwork, and providing valuable data insights. It improves efficiency, professionalism, and overall visitor experience, enabling staff to focus on essential tasks and create authentic, empathetic visitor interactions.
If you’re interested in investing in one simple tech tool that makes life easier for both your staff and your visitors, check out our product tour below.
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