Research

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Improving telephone helpline effectiveness particularly for vulnerable callers
Improving telephone helpline effectiveness particularly for vulnerable callers
Improving telephone helpline effectiveness particularly for vulnerable callers

Helpline Research Unit

  • Improving telephone helpline effectiveness particularly for vulnerable callers

Launched in 2012, the Helpline Research Unit (LUHRU) studies actual helpline calls to identify the skills that call-takers use in managing calls, particularly with vulnerable people.

Using Conversation Analysis, the Unit’s world-leading research – dating back to 2000 – has identified best practice in relation to how calls are opened and closed; how advice, information and support are given; how distress and anger are managed; and the use of web and text based support.

The work has led to concrete recommendations to improve the support given to vulnerable adults and children by helpline operators. It also informs helpline practices and policies in the UK and Australia, and underpins training workshops and web-based materials for practitioners.

The Unit has worked with a range of organisations to help improve their support services including NSPCC, Compassion in Dying End-of-Life Rights Information Line, Scottish Parentline, NHS Direct, AlcoLine, Mind Infoline, Fibromyalgia Association (UK), DANDA, Kids HelpLine (Australia), Child Health Line (Australia), and Health Direct.

As well as the bodies directly engaged with, LUHRU works closely with the Helplines Partnership which has more than 450 accredited member organisations.

Impact

  • Improved services 

    Workshops and training have delivered measurable improvements to service delivery, empowering call-takers to help callers achieve positive outcomes.

  • Policy and practice 

    As well as underpinning call-taker training, LUHRU research and expert advice informs helpline policies and practice.

  • On-going far-reaching support 

    The Helplines Partnership works with LUHRU on call-taker continuing professional development, accreditation decisions, auditing and training.