Let’s talk Covid-19: How can communication help prevent crisis in your clinic?
Covid-19 has presented unprecedented challenges to businesses worldwide. From adjusting to lockdown, to transforming hygiene routines, the pandemic has tested our limits. We’ve had to become better problem-solvers and learn to be resilient; however, one skill we tend to overlook is communication.
Our newsfeeds and televisions have shown us how businesses are using communication post-crisis. For example, Australian restaurant Thai Rock, the source of Sydney’s largest Covid-19 cluster, strategically used news coverage, social media, and communication with NSW Health and customers, to deal with the consequences of the outbreak. Yet, despite these efforts, the restaurant is struggling to bounce back. Since reopening, tables are empty, and business is down 90 per cent.
But how about before a crisis hits? The proactive messages we send can have a significant impact on preventing outbreak. Communication is a powerful resource that should be included in everyone’s toolbox for risk management. We receive a lot of information about work health and safety measures, but what about a communication plan to help prevent a crisis?
A simple phone call could be the difference between putting your clinic at risk of infection and stopping the spread.
How can I improve communication in my clinic?
Effective communication is key to disseminating important messages and building relationships with both staff and clients.
Covid-19 has presented some difficult situations, which require equally difficult conversations. It’s normal to be unsure of the right thing to say or do. We’ve put together some useful resources and tips to help you tackle communication in your clinic.
1. Call your clients or patients prior to their visit
Check-in with your clients prior to their visit and ensure they can safely attend their appointment. If they or anyone in their household is feeling unwell or have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 – let them know they need to stay home. Be sure to check in with them in two weeks to reschedule their appointment. You may need to revisit your cancellation policy to ensure clients won’t be unfairly charged in this circumstance.
For clients able to safely visit, it’s a good idea to advise them to come alone. If they need to bring someone, collect their contact details upon arrival for contact tracing.
This phone call is also an opportunity to reassure your clients about your clinic hygiene practices and answer any questions on measures like social distancing and wearing masks.
Unsure about the best way to approach this conversation? We’ve put together a phone script to help you out. Click here to download our resources.
2. Confirm the health of your clients when they arrive
Unfortunately, not everyone is taking Covid-19 and its associated symptoms as seriously as they need to be. For extra assurance, remain a safe distance, check temperatures upon arrival, and once again ask clients if they are experiencing any symptoms.
In the case a client appears to be unwell, politely inform them that they need to comeback another time for the safety of staff and other clients. Let them know you will give them a call to reschedule their appointment. Once they leave, be sure to thoroughly clean any areas that may have become contaminated.
3. Keep your staff regularly updated about policies and measures
With health and safety guidelines changing frequently, it’s important to keep your staff updated on new and developing measures - from new hotspots, to maintaining good hygiene, there’s a lot of information to understand and process. While staff meetings are a great way to build relationships and facilitate discussion, having a document to refer back to can be useful.
Why not share a weekly Covid-19 Update newsletter? Free online tools such as Canva, have a range of easy to use templates to help you to do this. We’ve created one to help you get started, download it here.
4. Communicate the importance of staying home when necessary
Make sure your staff know it’s essential to stay home if they are not feeling well. It’s important to maintain open and consistent conversation with your staff about taking health seriously.
To aid in this process, keep an open-door policy where staff can speak to you 1-on-1 about any concerns. The pandemic has been a stressful and anxious time for everyone. It has had severe financial and emotional impacts on many people and their loved ones. Be understanding of your staff and mitigate any pressure to attend work when unwell.
In having these conversations, you may also be able to gauge which staff are taking Covid-19 seriously, and which need further education and emphasis on policy.
Thai Rock is a tale of warning for this situation – Following a staff member testing positive to the virus, the restaurant became linked to 103 positive cases. Take precautions to make sure your clinic doesn’t face the same consequences.
Read up on this fact sheet from the Australian department of Health as a guide on when staff can go to work. Also take a look at Australian mental health and wellbeing support organisation, Beyond Blue, and their article on how to check in with someone during Covid-19.
5. Use visual communication to your benefit
Visual communication that is engaging and clear can be highly effective in communicating important messages. Posters and visual cues about safety measures can help make your clients feel safe and assured.
Purifas® customers who have registered on our website have access to our clinic portal. Here they can find a range of flyers, digital slides and other visual materials available for download. Using such resources shows your customers that your clinic is serious about their hygiene and comfort.
Remember to keep a record of all your points of contact. Good communication is all about being transparent and staying accountable.