Host: Edward, welcome back to the Health and Wellbeing Show. How are you doing?
Edward: I am very well, thank you. Nice to see you again.
Host: Yes, absolutely. So you’re fortnightly contributors to the Health and Wellbeing Show so we hear from you every two weeks. Do you want to just give us a bit of a background if anyone is listening to you now for the first time about what you do?
Edward: I would imagine that amongst the audience, there are health professionals and members of the public listening in, which is great. I’m from Cornwall Mobility Centre, which is right next to Treliske Hospital in Truro. We provide independent living advice equipment and also on the driving side of the house. We’re involved in vehicles, assessing people for driving and for adaptations which we can install in our workshops. So that’s generally what we do. We’re one of a network of 16 mobility centres across the country and we are the leading provider of mobility solutions in Cornwall and Devon. So that’s who we are, and we come on every couple of weeks and have a chat about what’s new and what we do, and that’s why we’re here this evening.
Host: And over the last few weeks, you’ve brought different colleagues with you, and today is no different. You’ve brought another one of your colleagues in with you today, so would you mind introducing her?
Edward: Indeed. We’ve brought in specialists over the last few weeks, and we’ll be doing that again I’m sure. This time, I thought it might be interesting for your listeners to hear a bit more about what it’s like at the sharp end of the organization, because we get a large number of people calling in and turning up at the doorstep and all that sort of thing. So today, I’ve got great pleasure in introducing Brenda Woolcock, who is one of our reception team and also her key job is actually making the place run as part of the administration team. But to the public coming in, she is the face of reception if you like. So Brenda, welcome.
Brenda: Thank you.
Host: Yes, thank you very much for coming in. Delighted to have you on the show, and as Edward mentioned, of course, for many people, you would be the face of the business initially. What’s that like?
Brenda: Well, I mean from day to day, it varies obviously, in terms of the phone calls we get, the people that come in, the nature of the phone calls and the visits. So it can be very interesting and varied.
Host: So what’s an average day in the life of yourself like at the Centre?
Brenda: Well, it involves all sorts of things. First and foremost, being there to answer the telephone, take any queries that people may have, help them and advise them as best as we can on reception, and put them through to the specialists - the people that can help them in whichever department they need to be put through. As well as that, when people visit the Centre, we’re there to make them feel welcome, and be there to offer them tea or coffee while they sit and wait to either see someone specific if they have an appointment, or to just be seen by anybody who can help them with any query they may have, any help, any advice they need. So we’re just basically at the front line there, to just be there for people and give them the initial welcome to the Centre in person. And then of course be there to take their phone calls, answer their queries and put them through to whoever they need to talk to.
Host: It’s an important role that you play within the business, really. So what types of people come in? Who do you see?
Brenda: Well, obviously again, it varies. We can have people who may have just had an amputation. We can also get people with degenerative conditions, people with long term conditions. So it does vary in the sort of people we may see and need to help.
Edward: We get quite a lot of people who are carers as well, don’t we Brenda?
Brenda: Definitely. We will get people over the phone again, or come in to the Centre by themselves, asking for any sort of information and advice on behalf of somebody. They can be occupational therapists, physiotherapists who just want to help the person they are helping. We get over the telephone physiotherapists and occupational therapists calling on behalf of someone, requesting a driving assessment for them. So they’ll request that for someone, and we’ll just send on the information that needs to go out to that person for them.
Edward: We can’t forget family as well because sometimes people forget that the largest number of carers, particularly in Cornwall, are actually family members. I was saying in the car on the way along that we had a lady yesterday whose daughter brought her in because she was an elderly lady, and the daughter felt that it would be a good place to go to assess her driving skills as to whether she could continue driving or not. That was a really good example of the sort of person that Brenda deals with, sometimes with quite complex family stuff in there, but I think people bring in issues relating to their own family as well as the individuals themselves.
Brenda: We do come across over the phone family members who are concerned, perhaps about their elderly relatives with driving for example, and they just want to make that initial step to find out some information for them, maybe give them the confidence to know that they can come to us for anything further on in the future. So yeah, again, we’re just there to give that initial boost, if you like, and information to encourage people to come back to us for anything further they may need.
Host: I can imagine, just going back to that point where you said sometimes you hear from family members who might be concerned about their elderly relatives driving, that must be quite a delicate situation to have to handle. That must be quite a tricky one to kind of weave through.
Brenda: It is, because we on reception aren’t driving assessors. We can only give the basic sort of information that we know and are given. Anything further than that, again, we just put the call through to one of our driving assessors, who can help either the relative or the client themselves in depth. So again, it’s us that just give the basic information that people may need. And sometimes they’re happy enough with that and go away with that, and sometimes, like I said, if they do need anything further on, we’re more than happy to put them through to one of our driving assessors to help them further.
Edward: I think the word “assessor” sounds a bit scary, so Brenda’s the Mrs. Nice Guy on the front desk, and I think people should remember that assessment is a pleasant process. It starts with a chat - well it starts with Brenda and then it starts with an assessor having a chat. It’s not a test, so the driving thing - people think, “Oh gosh, I have to go for a re-test.” It’s not about that at all. It’s about a gentle chat and really an assessment about whether somebody is safe to continue driving if they’re elderly, or to come back to driving if they’ve had unfortunately say an amputation or a stroke or some debilitative condition like that. So I think the whole ethos of Brenda’s job is about the sort of friendliness and approachbility which I hope is coming across.
Host: Yeah, absolutely. And Brenda, I believe you've also done some research within your role about the types of people that walk through the door.
Brenda: So over the telephone, over the last year, we’ve had over 8,000 calls. In terms of in-person visits, we’ve had over 5,000 visits. We’ve received quite a few emails as well - over 2,000, and correspondence by letter was over 1,000. It gives an overall figure of about 17,000, roughly, overall contacts we’ve had.
Edward: Amazing. I had no idea it was as many as that. I thought we were in the thousands. I didn’t realize we were up in the sort of the high teens. That’s astounding.
Host: Yeah, brilliant. And of course, with your new website launch as well, so hopefully more hits on the website will improve that number too.
Edward: Yeah, we have got increasing hits. The problem with the new website, of course, is that when it’s new, everybody goes on it. So there was sort of peak of people hitting the website about three weeks ago, and now it’s calmed down a bit, but it’s steady.
Brenda: But we still get good comments about the new website. I have taken a couple of calls from people saying after they have seen the new website that they like it, so that’s very good and encouraging. So it’s always good to hear.
Edward: Just to remind people, it’s www.cornwallmobility.co.uk so get online and have a look at it.
Host: Brilliant. Fantastic. And Brenda, if people want to call the Centre and maybe speak to you initially and find out more information, how can they get hold of you?
Brenda: Well, our telephone number is 01872 254920. They will always come through to reception, either to myself or my colleague. And we’re just always there to take their call and help them in any way we can.
Edward: I think it’s also worth saying that although we encourage people to phone or get in touch through the website, which will take you into an email conversation, we’re very happy for people to just turn up -that particularly health professionals who might be visiting Treliske for whatever reason, we’re just beyond Treliske, just past the helipad at North Buildings, and we have free parking, which is important for health professionals. If they would like to come and see us, we’re always happy to see people. We can’t guarantee that there will be a specialist on hand because of not having rung ahead, but certainly people are always very welcome to visit, have a look around. We have a showroom so people can see the types of equipment and kit that is available through us. So we’re very open and welcoming, and I would encourage people to ring ahead but it doesn’t matter if they don’t. If they happen to be in the Treliske area, come and see us.
Host: Brilliant. Great stuff. Well, Brenda, lovely to have you on the show this week, and Edward, thank you very much for your time.
Brenda: Thank you.
Edward: Thank you very much.