The problem is not the large “fake skylight” in the examination room.
The problem is that some staff keep turning it off.
When it’s on, at least one patient a day – often more – praise the fake skylight. They make jokes about being able to see squirrels move. They talk with staff about the different scenes in different rooms. It brings a bit of joy into an otherwise crappy experience.
But some staff turn off the fake skylight. They turn on the can spotlights on the edges of the room. When the fake skylight is off, the scene is little more than a darkened picture.
Patients do not comment on the can lights.
For one of the exams we do, there’s a mandatory break. It’s used to let things circulate in the patient’s body so that the pictures turn out well.
One staff member – let’s call her Sue – tells patients “Okay, and next there’s a break, and that break has to be a minimum of forty-five minutes.”
Bob, on the other hand, just says “Okay, now it’s time for your break!”
The thing is, the breaks are often more than forty-five minutes. Sometimes they’re an hour. Sometimes more.
It’s easy to tell which patients worked with Sue, and which worked with Bob.
Those who worked with Sue are patient. They’re cheerful.
Those who worked with Bob are, well, not. They feel forgotten. They wonder if anyone is going to see them again. They wonder what’s going on. They call for staff and end up making more work for everyone.
In both instances, there’s a simple thing that can be done to make patient’s experiences better – and therefore make the experiences of the staff better as well.
And in both cases, despite the simple thing being obvious and being pointed out, it’s completely ignored.
And I simply don’t understand why.