Edinburgh care hotline saves hundreds of disabled people from panicked 999 calls

By Sian Traynor

A new Edinburgh care provider has seen the amount of GP and emergency calls in the area drop dramatically after introducing a 24/7 hotline.

Blackwood Housing and Care have given those with disabilities a constant point of contact for remote care and advice throughout day and night, offering round the clock support.

Dealing with a range of issues from medical problems to anxiety, staff are able to support the individual via both phone and video calls within a minute.

Speaking about the service, one Edinburgh user, who wished to remain anonymous, shared how the hotline has made them feel safer in their own home.

They said: “It’s helped me when I’m feeling stressed or feeling down. The service has really helped me with that. The service has helped me talk through how I’m feeling, and it helps me feel a lot better about myself when I’m having really bad days.

“The staff are polite, patient, considerate and honest. Now that the service has moved to 24/7 it’s been a lot better. See if I panic about something that’s when I really really need the service and that’s when the staff are there to support me through that.

“It’s very easy to use and I feel safer in my own house because of it. You know that there is someone you can reach out to when you need support.

“If it wasn’t for the staff and the 24/7 service, I don’t know how I would’ve been.”

Blackwood first introduced a ‘Night Support Service (NSS)’ in 2016 with four customers before transitioning into ‘24/7 Support Service’ in October 2020.

The service has since resulted in a 96 per cent drop in GP and other emergency calls, with customer levels rising by 60 per cent, expanding beyond Edinburgh since launching.

With a growing waiting list and the 24/7 service being extended to customers in Glasgow and Stirling, Blackwood now hopes to offer the facility to other housing and care organisations across Scotland.

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Elaine Willis, Enhanced Team Leader at 24/7, said: “The technology and innovation of our service is the way forward as we are able to resolve issues and identify problems before they become a major issue.

“I’ve worked in the care industry for more than 35 years and I think this is the right direction for the service.

“Customers with complex needs, who live on their own, often get frustrated or nervous – but by being able to speak directly and immediately with a comforting voice the situation can frequently be resolved.

“The pandemic escalated the number of service users and has helped transform the support service. It is great to give customers the confidence that someone will be on call to help them 24 hours of the day, seven days a week."


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