How to use the 5 senses to welcome patients better | Clinical cleaning services

How do you want your patients to feel when in your waiting room?

Most come in worried, anxious, weary, sad… most come in with concerns on their mind. How can surgeries welcome patients better and reduce these feelings?

I have been diagnosed with White Coat Syndrome. This means my blood pressure reading will be raised whenever it is taken by anyone in a medical uniform. It is something I cannot control, and every time I walk into a waiting room, I know that my body will operate independently of my mind. Even if I am mostly calm, the Syndrome will mean my blood pressure will spike, throwing the practitioner’s readings. So, I am very sensitive to the impact medical centres can have on patients.

How our senses affect our impressions

You might acknowledge that people’s initial impressions form a perception of you, your clinic and your service. You may think this is correlated to what they see as they enter your clinic and later what they hear as they have their consultation or treatment. But recent research would suggest that it is a lot more complex; those first impressions can be influenced by most of our senses.

There is a long-standing link between olfactory (smell) sensation and one’s mental wellbeing, there are proven links between aromatherapy and a reduction in anxiety and depression. Scents can be associated with past experiences. The clinical ‘hospital smell’ is documented to evoke memories of experiences in the hospital, these may be positive or negative, but are thought to be better than musty or foul-smelling odours.

There is no doubt that first impressions of your business are helped by what your client sees when entering your reception or waiting area. Think about all of your patient’s senses, aiming to affect as many of them as possible in order to put your patients at ease.

1.      Sight

The ideal waiting room needs to be a clean and natural light space. If you can, have a view of nature. If your waiting room overlooks less attractive vistas, consider bringing nature inside to help. Green plants and fish tanks are cliches for a reason!

Think about the furniture that you use in your waiting room. Although furniture should be easy to clean in order to ensure CQC standards of cleanliness are reached at all times, you do not have to go for simply functional furniture. Think about using different colours or styles to develop a welcoming space. Even adding some aesthetically pleasing artwork to the walls can help create a feeling of warmth and personality in an otherwise faceless room.

By seeing clean chairs, flooring and walls, rather than stains and sticky deposits, your patients will begin to develop an impression of your practice that is positive which will start to build trust between you. Ensure your clinical cleaning services are of the highest quality at all times.

2.      Touch

You would be surprised at how many small adjustments such as a rounded reception desk and rounded arms on chairs will make. Rounded corners, rather than square edges, give people a more tactile experience when interacting with the objects in your waiting room. Softer edges help to reduce anxiety.

3.      Smell

Plug-in room scents are perfect for giving the right aroma to your premises. Lavender may be calming, whereas cleaning products with a citrus base may have an energising effect.

4.      Hearing

An over-filled and crammed waiting room can make people feel claustrophobic, whereas a room with too little furniture will sound echoey and cold. Make sure you strike a good balance and reduce excess unpleasant noise in the room.

People’s music preference differs widely, but some relaxing background noise can be said to help calm and distract those that are nervously waiting to be seen. It also has the added effect of ensuring confidentiality, as waiting patients will be unable to hear voices travelling through consultation room doors.

5.      Taste

Ensure that you provide water for your patients. Providing a place to enjoy cold water or a warm drink from a compostable cup, demonstrates to the client that you care about their comfort and choice, even before they have entered the examination, therapy, or scan room.

Be empathetic

Putting yourself in your patients’ position and aiming to make them as comfortable as possible has health benefits for your patients. The Journal of Patient Experience writes that a patient’s health recovery does correlate with the environment they find themselves in. A relaxing, calm space, which is visibly clean and organised appears to be the ideal environment to promote healing and wellbeing in those that need the care of your private clinic.

But creating a great welcome has other benefits too. Ensuring your clinical cleaning services are up to scratch does not just meet CQC standards, it builds a brand that your patients can trust. If you are a private clinic, this can mean better business for you, as patients will recommend you to others. Ultimately, being empathetic to your patients’ feelings will only bring reward for your company.