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24/7 National dementia helpline – The case for…

dementia helpline uk care guide

Is there a call for a 24/7 dementia helpline or not? There are those who say that the demand is not there and there would be a cost implication if one was set up.

On the first point I have to disagree totally. I have recently run a Twitter poll for a week to gauge public interest. 90% of respondents said yes and only 10% said no to a dementia helpline. I would say that is a resounding thumbs up for the yes camp.

I have a few points to make in the case for:

  • There is currently no 24/7 dementia helpline in England that is publicly known. The Alzheimer’s Society run one but they close their lines at 8pm Mon-Weds 6pm Thurs –Fri and 4pm over the weekends. Admiral Nurses also have one but they also close the lines early although they are now going to extend their hours slightly.
  • The hardest time of the day for a family carer is during the night time.
  • Wales and Scotland have a 24/7 dementia helpline that are brilliant and have helped so many.
  • Money should not come into this issue as it’s a human topic and surely people’s lives come before money.
  • Don’t get me wrong here please as I think that both the Alzheimer’s Society and Admiral Nurses do a fantastic job and we need them desperately.

What do other people think?

I also spent some time recently on a Twitter chat that included the USA. The have 24/7 dementia helplines as part and parcel of dementia care and the demand they get is huge and their input has been invaluable to so many. In the chat people asked about who would man the phones.

Volunteers

It was suggested that volunteers with dementia care experience take up this role or even off duty dementia nurses. The point re pay came up but I feel that someone should do this voluntarily rather than for money. It has to be a calling from the heart. All people are looking for is an ear and someone to talk too who has empathy.

Signposting

Signposting was suggested. It was also said that if an answer cant be given then the helpline should source a reply and get back to the original person asking the question.

What would the dementia helpline answer?

The question was raised about the types of questions that may be asked of the dementia helpline. The most common question asked of the Alzheimer’s Society is about seeking a diagnosis for a loved one.

It was agreed by many that any dementia helpline set up should be able to supply info on resources available in local communities. Therefore, it would be worthwhile have a resources website to support the dementia helpline.

It was agreed that a dementia helpline could be a lifeline for those living in socially isolated rural areas.

Funding

Funding was discussed and in the US they are funded by large companies. Should funding be supplied from central government and or local authorities? Helplines should be a Freephone number so all the overheads would be is for an office space and the setting up of the lines along with heating and lighting. Not a horrendous huge sum involved.

Diversity and inclusiveness was mentioned and these are key words.

Conclusion

So as you can see there is plenty of pros and not many cons that can’t be overcome if we were to try and work together to build a dementia helpline. The idea works so well in Wales and Scotland but why oh why is it not working here in England or Northern Ireland. The demand is there. There are 700,000 informal cares in this country and many are crying out for help during the small hours , this concept would surely help would it not? I think so.

What do think? 

Add your thoughts to our forum where we discuss the dementia helpline here.

This blog was written by Derek Fisher @derekfisher2907.