Publish date: 18 January 2023

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This week for our regular ‘What Do You’ feature we’re talking to Louise Jansen, a Health Advisor at Ashgate in Chesterfield who has been with us for almost two years following a change in career.

Louise is also part of the 111 staff forum and keen to hear colleagues’ feedback to help improve the service, here’s what she had to say…

“Before joining DHU I had been working in a compliance auditing role for ten years. As well as supporting team members, I was doing coaching and auditing, but all that changed once the pandemic hit. Like many, I began working from home and doing more overtime than I should. I knew it was time to find a role with a better work/life balance and my daughter, who already worked for DHU in the NHS111 service, told me that I would love it, so I gave it some thought and went for it!

“I start at seven in the morning, getting up early before my shift for a few coffees to make sure I’m energised and on full power. Throughout the day we can receive a wide range of calls from people with different health issues and I get to make a positive change. There are so many times when I get home and honestly feel that I’ve made a difference in somebody’s life.

“For people thinking about becoming a Health Advisor, you need good communication skills, empathy and the ability to think critically. It is so important to use active listening and keep callers on track with the advice you give which can be easier said than done, as no two calls are the same.

“When dealing with difficult or complex calls I always try to remain calm and professional in each situation. If I come across a call with a new query that I’m not familiar with or need help in terms of how to handle it, there is always a senior manager or a clinical advisor around to ask for guidance. That support is important and really useful when you’re first starting out as you gain experience and get to grips with the role.

“Most patients we speak to are lovely, but it can be difficult and a real challenge on occasions where they get aggravated or abusive. It’s not pleasant and it can be quite demoralising, there is support available, including reflective supervision to go through the effects of difficult calls, and we talk to each other to share experiences but it can affect you. I know the system is under pressure at the moment and it can take longer to answer some calls but we’re here to help at the end of the day and all we ask is that as front-line staff, we are treated with the same respect that you would expect to be treated. As I said though, most are lovely and appreciative and it’s those that I choose to focus on.

“Recently I had the opportunity to join the NHS111 Staff Forum. As a staff forum member, I am responsible for representing the views and concerns of my colleagues at the staff forum meetings. In my role as a Staff Forum rep I get to expand on that by ensuring that the voices of the employees are heard and taken into consideration by management.

“Though I have just started, I am available to talk to and actively encourage my workmates to share their thoughts and ideas with me. Colleagues can best support the forum by providing honest and constructive feedback about how they find life at DHU and encourage their peers to do the same. This part of my role is very rewarding as, not only am I helping patients but I’m making a difference to my colleague’s lives as well.”

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