Helpline of the Year: Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland

Mat Kirkby (Oscar winning writer, director & producer of The Phone Call
& Laura Hastings (Head of Advice & Information, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland)

At the Helplines Partnership 2015 Awards, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) won Helpline of the Year 2015.

The Judges said CHSS was very deserving:

  • CHSS has imbedded itself in the larger diverse yet inclusive Community. The dedication and warmth and effectiveness are reflected in its documentation. The Helpline is providing for a portfolio of family problems which must be very much appreciated by individuals in family units not knowing where to get help. Highly recommended!”
  • This nomination demonstrates a commitment to reach the most marginalised communities who are at greater risk of suffering chest, stroke or heart illnesses. The service is expanding and increasing its communication channels with a range of additional access and translation services in a range of formats and through a variety of mechanisms/technologies.”

CHSS was also awarded 2nd place for the Best Innovative Use of Technology 2015

The Judges said:

  • Loved the suite of technology they have introduced over recent years, and excellent innovation in relaying messages about weather - often the simplest of solutions offers the most innovation and support. Clearly states how it works with lots of groups and developing technology to fit within different communities.”
  • “This is an example of a very direct and immediate use of technology offering 'live' advice for a very specific condition, helping people to manage their health and participate in their community at the best possible time for them.

The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) Advice Line opened in 1995 with one part-time nurse.   In 2015 we have 5 Advice Line nurses, have answered over 40,000 calls and are the first helpline in the UK to achieve Helplines Partnership Quality Standard accreditation 5 times.

The Advice Line’s contribution in supporting service users and their families is significant because it covers 3 main conditions affecting people in the UK:

  • Every 45 minutes someone has a stroke
  • Every 55 minutes someone has a heart attack
  • Chest illnesses are the biggest single reason people use NHS services

Chest, heart and stroke illness changes lives and can cause stress, anxiety, and depression for the people affected. Chest, heart and stroke conditions are more prevalent amongst deprived and minority ethnic communities.

One of our callers said: “Your Advice Line gave me invaluable help which probably saved my life”.

To reach people in these communities the CHSS Advice Line has:

  • secured funding for a new number which is free from landlines and mobiles: 0808 801 0899
  • expanded the range of contact options to include a Text Relay service, Telephone Translation, email, text message, Facebook, Twitter and via our website
  • produced health information in Braille, large print format, and minority ethnic languages (factsheets and videos)
  • produced and distributed our promotional materials in minority ethnic languages

The Advice Line has also developed an innovative, free Air Quality and Weather Text Alert Service for callers whose chest and heart conditions make it difficult for them to breathe and carry out their normal activities when the air quality is poor or weather conditions are adverse. The nurses check official air quality and weather forecasts daily at 4pm, and text subscribers if there is to be poor air quality, high winds, cold or hot temperatures in their area the following day.

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