You might be doing well in the exam room, but how are your furry patients handling it in the waiting room? How you design and run your waiting room can make a difference in your practice– calming both the animals you treat and their humans. So, how exactly do you turn a zoo of a waiting room into a calm and inviting space for patients to relax before treatment?
Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for keeping a calm waiting room:
Give clients clear instructions
One of the easiest ways to create more calm in your waiting room is to make sure that clients know and follow the rules. When clients make their appointment, make sure they understand that their animal must be leashed or caged at all times. Receptionists should also inquire if animals are aggressive or overly anxious during vet visits and follow up with tips or instructions on how they can better prepare, calm, or manage their pets.
Sometimes, clients need to sort paperwork, make payments, or check their phones. Adding leash clips at the front desk and around the waiting room can free up clients’ hands while keeping their pets secure. You can also include them over exam tables to make it easier and more comfortable for owners to manage their large or nervous pets throughout the exam.
Install a cat shelf
Felines are natural climbers and tend to feel safer at higher heights. To keep cats off the ground and off of the chairs, you might consider adding tables or shelving for clients to place cat cages. The shelving should be sturdy and have solid dividers that prevent two already-stressed cats from making eye contact and going into flight-or-fight mode.
Dividing the waiting room
Dogs and cats are known for having a brawl or two, and cats specifically can become extremely stressed out at the sight of a big pup. Installing dividers, building a half wall, or offering different waiting rooms altogether can help to keep some healthy space between the two.
Separate appointments by breed
If your waiting room isn’t large enough to separate dogs and cats, you might want to consider separating them by appointment. This would be mean blocking off specific times or days specifically for felines—no dogs allowed! You can determine how much time is sufficient based on the ratio of your current clients. It’s also a great tactic to solicit more cat owners to your clinic.
Use a paging system or text alert
Some pets can’t handle the sensory overload of a vet clinic’s waiting room. The smells, sounds, and anticipation of treatment can cause anxiousness and stress, leading them to act out and making them more challenging to treat. So, instead of subjecting them to a long, anxious wait, a text alert system will allow clients to wait in the car, take them for a walk, or a short play session in a nearby park. When it’s time for the appointment, the clients are notified with a 5-minute text alert and can quickly escort them to the waiting room.
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