Pictured: Jennifer McNeil one the MS Society’s new helpline nurses.
People across Scotland living with multiple sclerosis (MS) are able to contact a remote nurse service as a leading charity expand their free helpline.
The MS Society have added two trained MS Nurses to their helpline team to help address people’s questions and provide information and support to those affected by the condition.
The service is designed to offer additional support to anyone with MS and can be reached by phone on 0808 800 8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is hoped that the service can increase people’s knowledge and understanding of MS in order to manage their condition better.
People with MS, their friends and family, or anyone enquiring on behalf of someone with MS are welcome to call the helpline to talk about subjects like symptoms, treatments, healthcare appointments and diagnosis.
Jennifer McNeil from Lanarkshire is one the MS Society’s new helpline nurses.
She began working on the charity’s helpline on the first day of the UK-wide lockdown.
“We are here as an extra resource.
“Despite coronavirus, life is still going on.
“People are still getting diagnosed, still having symptoms, maybe having side effects.
“So, it’s just to let them know that we are here to support in any way we can when they are having difficulty getting hold of their MS team.
“As much as possible we will be able to give support and information and signpost or direct them to the right services should they need to get medical advice.
“MS doesn’t take account of the pandemic, it doesn’t take a back seat, so it’s important to acknowledge that and keep on top of any symptoms and still access things that you normally would, whether coronavirus is here or not.
“We have the luxury of time on the MS Helpline so we can spend a bit more time to go through things.
“A lot of times we’ll be reinforcing what the MS team have said.
“Sometimes people need a few conversations and written info to get a good understanding of things.”
More than 15,000 people in Scotland have MS – one of the highest rates in the world.
The helpline nurses are available to help support people at any stage of their MS journey whether they think they may have MS, are waiting for diagnosis or learning to manage the condition.
“A lot of what we do it is about education and providing information.
“If someone has an appointment, for instance, we can provide some information beforehand and help guide them – practical advice to help people get as much out of appointments as possible.
“The person with MS is part of their MS team.
“The consultant and the nurse can bring their expertise but the person with MS is an expert in themselves, they have to be part of any discussions and any decisions made as well.
“We’re not able to give medical advice because we don’t have access to medical records of people’s personal circumstances so we hope to consolidate on what the MS team have discussed and will be discussing in the future.”
The free and confidential MS Society helpline gives emotional support and information to anyone affected by MS and is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm.
As well as the nurse service the helpline offers access to, benefits advice and the recently launched ‘Keep in Touch’ chatting service which provides a weekly catch-up with a friendly MS Society volunteer staff member.
Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said:
“To have two knowledgeable, friendly and experienced MS nurses join our helpline team is fantastic – particularly at a time when people may have less time with their usual healthcare professionals.
“Adding to the options of support for people who call our helpline is very important to us and we would encourage anyone who’d like to speak to a qualified healthcare professional to call 0808 800 8000 or email email@example.com.”