Our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline (0808 808 3000) is a vital support for people with dementia, their carers & families and the wider community by ensuring that there is always someone there to listen and act when needed, be that day or night.
The Helpline is staffed entirely by a team of trained and highly skilled volunteer call handlers. Their dedication and loyalty are remarkable. For Volunteer's Week, one of our handlers shares her story.
I have always enjoyed interacting with people but my interest in people with dementia comes from personal family experiences. It gave me a feel for how supporting the person with dementia and family and friends and helping them work through their options can make a difference.
As a volunteer call handler, we go through an extensive initial training period and then ongoing update sessions. During the covid restriction period, this was done online. We all agree it will be great to start meeting with our colleagues in person again as there is nothing to beat meeting face to face to share experiences, get to know each other, and make friends. Our training will continue as a mix of online and in person as volunteers are based all over the country.
On the Helpline no two calls are the same. No two experiences are the same. We receive a variety of callers, be it someone with dementia, a carer, a relative, a friend, or a professional. We find a vast variety of topics come through. It could be a person worried about memory or accessing post-diagnostic support, wondering how to cope with behaviour, looking for legal or financial information, enquiring how to make a donation, or just wanting to talk. We act as a gateway to exploring options and how to get help and support. We have a wealth of information we can send out and a team of experienced people to call on if we need more information or support.
I, like everyone doing this role, enjoy doing it or we would not continue. There is a sense of adrenaline when you are on shift. To hear a caller’s voice lightening during the course of a call is the best sound. That and the thanks we get at the end of a call helps reassures us that for these people we are making a difference.