At The Receptionist, we love to tout the benefits of a digital check-in process.
Computers are better than humans at a lot of the components required for effective guest check-in, including taking down visitor check-in details with complete accuracy and storing records and legal agreements automatically and securely.
In fact, many companies have chosen to do away with their staffed front desks and rely solely on an automated check-in kiosk.
However, long term-care facilities need live receptionists now more than ever. 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.
Plus, the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that front desk workers at long-term care facilities play a crucial safety role: gatekeepers for a population that is at enhanced risk of contagious disease and injury.
So, when it’s time to hire a receptionist for your long-term care facility, you should do so slowly and carefully, considering each of the following qualities.
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
A good reception area needs optimal use of both people and technology. For more on when to use each resource, check out this post: Tech vs. People in the Office Lobby.
If you’re interested in investing in one simple tech tool that makes life easier for both your staff and your visitors, we hope you’ll check out our tablet-based visitor management app. Head over to our home page to learn more about our features, or request a custom demo of The Receptionist for iPad.A good reception area needs optimal use of both people and technology. Click To Tweet
For more on how to hire, here’s what to read next: The Importance of Hiring for Cultural Fit.
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