A day in the life of a ...
Progress Lifeline Control Centre Operator

My name is Carol and I’ve been working in the Progress Lifeline Control Centre for six months. Whilst my previous work had always been in customer services, I felt a Control Centre job would be much more focused on helping individuals and this appealed to me.  The interview prepared me for a busy, challenging but incredibly rewarding role.

I work 24 hours a week on a flexible contract. This means I get a rota covering six weeks ahead and I will be given four x six hour shifts. The type of calls and work can be varied - I like this as I’m working with lots of different operators, my work feels diverse and I’m not stuck in a fixed routine.

PL - Lifeline Contact Centre - Aug 15

First things first

A typical day could mean an early start at 6am. A quick cycle or walk to work and I arrive to see the night staff just coming to the end of their shift. They let me know how the night has gone and then my first task is to catch up on any emails informing me of any important updates to processes.  I get logged onto my PC and open up the documents I need for my shift.  Most of the customers I deal with are older people but anyone can have a Lifeline. People can be vulnerable for lots of reasons and we can give them peace of mind to feel safe at home and enable them to get help quickly if they need it. It’s a fantastic service and it’s great to be doing a job you really believe in.

Most of our customers have a Lifeline unit and red button pendant alarm that they wear around their neck or wrist that they can press when they need help. There are also many customers who have other sensors in their home that activate calls to us, called Telecare. Some customers may be at risk of falling and so they have a falls detector that automatically alerts us to a fall. Others may have bed, epilepsy or door sensors. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can activate straight through to us too.  At first I felt nervous calling the emergency services but it soon becomes a very important part of the job and acting quickly is vital.

PL - fitting sensors - July 15

The Control Centre is always fast-paced and no two days are ever the same. Every day you get faced with new situations that you need to deal with quickly and calmly. One of the best things about the job is the staff I work with. Right from the start everyone was really welcoming and I knew I’d never be left on my own not knowing what to do. Someone will always point you in the right direction and give their advice, often based on their years of experience. 

Activations

When an activation comes through I look at the screen to see what has caused the call.  I quickly look back over the previous calls we’ve had that day as this gives lots of information and is a vital part of knowing what you may need to do next. Some calls are straight-forward but many are complicated and could involve many calls to different people and services before you’ve resolved the issue.

Some of our customers are unsteady on their feet and this can mean they fall. A fall can activate their falls detector or they can press their red button and it will call us. When the call is presented the first thing we do is speak to the customer. They usually respond (but not always - I’ll come to that later). It’s like speaking through an intercom. I ask them if they are injured so I can determine who I can send to lift them. Our Emergency Home Responders are able to lift depending on certain criteria. I don’t like the thought of an elderly person lying on the floor all alone but I can act quickly and get help to them and provide them with reassurance.  I have to focus on doing my best for that person and getting the right help to them.  There’s a lot to think about and check but everything you need to know about the customer is detailed on the screen including medical conditions and key safe access at the property. Accuracy is vital as it could endanger someone’s life if I provided incorrect information.

PL - Lifting Service - Oct 15

A couple of examples

Today I had a pendant activation and no-one in the property responded to me. I tried for a minute to get their attention and then made a phone call to the property on the landline. Still no answer. We call this a ‘no response’. This can’t just be ignored as the person could be in another part of the house away from the lifeline unit or unable to answer. I provide reassurance that I’m getting help even though no one is answering.

I have no idea about the situation in the property and what could have happened. I quickly read the notes on the screen to check who I should call first. This is often a family member and on this occasion, my call is answered first time. I speak to the customer’s son and explain what’s happened and ask him to attend. I update the notes on the screen so my colleagues know what I’ve done.  Often the family will attend and it’s a false alarm but you can never assume. This time however it wasn’t. Later that day, the son calls back to let me know his mum had had a stroke and was unable to speak. I was relieved he had attended quickly as they were then able to call an ambulance.

One of the calls I listened to on my first week in the job, was a call activated from a resident’s falls detector. Our operator asked if the resident was ok and they responded clearly, “yes, I’m ok thanks”. It would be easy to assume nothing else needed doing on this call but my colleague then asked “have you fallen?” and the answer came back “yes, I’m on the floor and can’t get up”.  I was shocked! This was a great learning point for me.  I realised I needed to ask questions very carefully and probe further to be certain of the right course of action. If in doubt we do not close the call. We concentrate on the call we are dealing with and make sure the resident really is ok.

At the end of the day

 

I’m providing a vital service to help people stay living where they choose to be

 

Calls come in fast all day long and the shift flies by. Twelve o’clock comes and my shift is over. I have a quick look over my calls to make sure I’ve not missed any notes that need to be passed on, put my headset and file away in the cupboard and log off. Its only lunchtime and I have the rest of the day to myself. My next shift will be completely different and probably entail working different hours with a different group of people. Sometimes I go home and it’s hard to unwind if I’ve had difficult things to deal with, but in the end I know I’m providing a vital service to help people stay living where they choose to be.