Volunteer Service Centre Quality Improvements – Wellbeing & Mental Health Helpline

The Volunteer Service Centre has a listening service (Wellbeing & Mental Health Helpline) which has been active for 21 years and the listening service volunteers support callers in the Lancashire area. The volunteers do receive difficult and distressing calls and manage them accordingly with support from Service Administrators. The volunteers provide an excellent service and are committed to providing it. The listening service also receives a high number of compliments from the callers who really appreciate this supportive service. During 2016 a quality improvement approach to developing the helpline further was begun.

Co-Production

  • From start: Yes
  • During process: Yes
  • In evaluation: Yes

Evaluation

  • Peer: No
  • Academic: No
  • PP Collaborative: Yes

Find out more

 

What We Did

The Volunteer Service Centre has a listening service (Wellbeing & Mental Health Helpline) which has been active for 21 years and the listening service volunteers support callers in the Lancashire area. The volunteers do receive difficult and distressing calls and manage them accordingly with support from Service Administrators. The volunteers provide an excellent service and are committed to providing it. The listening service also receives a high number of compliments from the callers who really appreciate this supportive service. During 2016 a quality improvement approach to developing the helpline further was begun.

The Volunteer Service Centre is moving forward with many quality improvements during this year and up to 2020. One quality improvement is the recruitment of ‘Night Owls’ and these are specifically for the weekend shifts from 8pm to midnight to ensure our callers have the support of volunteers covering these late night shifts as these are when callers need support the most due to loneliness and the lack of availability of other services/organisations.  Another is the development of the Service Administrators role, they are on shifts with the volunteers to support them and escalate any suicide calls to the emergency services where there is a requirement.

In January the Trust hosted a Celebrating Volunteering Event, this was very successful and good feedback/suggestions were flowing during the day. One was that the volunteers wanted meetings and social events and these are currently being rolled out. Volunteers were also presented with certificates showing the years of service they had provided to the volunteering sector of this Trust. This Event will be hosted again in June 2018 during National Volunteering Week.

Wider Active Support

We work in partnership with mental Health Services from Lancashire Care, the police and other emergency services
The Helpline, in liaison with the Police, has also started to deliver ‘Courtesy Calls’ (proactive calls) to people who feel they need support when they are feeling lonely or ring the 999 emergency services to access support. This initiative was put in place in an attempt to free up police and ambulance times for cost effectiveness and to also demonstrate the power of a listening ear.

Co-Production

The service is provided by volunteers and is developed in partnership with volunteers. At the volunteering celebration event in January volunteers contributed to the improvement plan for the service. This included the establishment of monthly contact meetings where the volunteers and staff from the team meet to explore ideas for new ways of working as we constantly strive to improve our service. These meetings have occurred in the office and also on Blackpool Prom as the team walk together, get to know each other a little better and share their improvement ideas.
Another quality improvement suggested by the volunteers was enhanced support when they were taking calls. This idea has resulted in the test of service administrator roles who are present and support the volunteers when the helpline is open. This improvement is being tested using the model for improvement and feedback from the volunteers about the impact of the role is being measured. Early findings suggest that the role is having a positive impact, with volunteers feeling better supported and connected to the wider team
 

Looking Back/Challenges Faced

During the last 12 months we have introduced a quality improvement approach to the development of the helpline, working with volunteers to understand how we can make improvements and testing the ideas for change. If we were to establish the helpline again we would adopt this approach from the beginning, as together the team understand what matters and what changes can be tested to support the improvements

 

Sustainability

Compliment and complaint feedback
Service administrator role evaluation
Number of calls received per month
Suicide prevention calls each month

Evaluation (Peer or Academic)

No.

 

Outcomes

The helpline continues to evolve and develop. The service is responsive to the needs of callers providing a valuable listening service out of hours 7-midnight Monday-Friday and 4-11pm Saturday and Sunday. The helpline compliments existing mental health services by offering a volunteer listening service
Some feedback from callers to the helpline in April 2017:
“Caller thanked me for the time and said we have lovely volunteers on the Helpline. He said he couldn’t tell me how grateful he was to the Helpline for all that we do”.
“She said thank you and we have saved her life many times by listening and supporting her”.
“You’ve really helped me tonight, I was so desperate before and now I feel I can connect”.
“You are the only Helpline that actually listens to people”
Re Courtesy Calls – “He loves getting a phone call. He said it really helps and he really appreciates it”.
5 suicides calls taken during the month of March 2017 and help facilitated for the people calling.

 

 

Sharing

We have recently shared our work at Lancashire Care’s Quality Improvement Conference and have agreed to share this at the second Positive Practice Collaborative Quality Improvement Special Interest Group in October 2017. We are happy to share our work in different ways and this has included site visits from colleagues in other organisations who are interested to hear about our experiences

Is there any other information you would like to add?

Due to reviewing the service, streamlining has taken place which in turn has enabled cost savings. We have received a high amount of feedback in the form of compliments for the service and also important feedback from the volunteers. There is now a monthly newsletter which provides information about the hours provided by volunteers, for example, over 700 hours were provided during April 2017. There were also compliments for that month of 101. The newsletter also provides information about future events, ie the National Volunteers Week in June and details of how we are celebrating volunteers during that week. We are extremely proud of our Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline and of our amazing volunteers who commit their time to listen and make a difference every day. We would love to see the team recognised for their contribution nationally through the Positive Practice Collaborative and have the opportunity to share our experience with others
 

 

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