The British Lung Foundation (BLF) Helpline, opened in March 2006, has responded to around 17000 calls seeking advice on a range of issues relating to living with a lung condition.
Most of the calls are from people who are living with a lung condition, and specifically about some aspect of their condition and how it affects their lives. It is staffed by team of specially trained staff, including respiratory nurses (adult and paediatric) welfare benefits advisers and counsellors, backed up by specialist doctors from the BLF. Most of the enquiries are by phone, but also enquiries are made by email and letter.
The helpline team provides advice and support for anyone affected by a lung condition including patients, their partner and family, friends and employers, as well as healthcare professionals.
The majority of people contacting the helpline want information about their lung condition and how they can help themselves to live with it. However the helpline can be contacted for general advice on living with a lung condition, for information on:
- How to arrange oxygen when going on holiday;
- Entitlement to welfare benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance;
- Blue badge parking permits, travelling with oxygen and other mobility issues;
- Claiming compensation for occupational lung disease;
- Rights to time off work due to lung health problems.
In August 2009 the BLF Helpline was awarded the Helpline Association accreditation. It is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and calls are charged at the caller’s local rate. Outside these hours, or if all the advisers are busy, we use an answer machine. Callers are encouraged to leave a message and their telephone number, and we then call them back.
The Helpline team are happy to receive calls from respiratory nurses and other healthcare professionals.
A Helpline card, with the Helpline’s contact details, is available for health care professionals to pass on to the people they care for. The cards can be ordered, free of charge in batches of 100, through the BLF website – lunguk.org – or by contacting Mark Pilling, Advice Service Manager, on 0151 224 7776.