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Anxious care customers reach out for reassurance

Brits’ reluctance to talk to elderly parents about their care[1] has sparked an increase in anxious family members picking up the phone to care providers, according to new data.

Leading outsourced communications provider Moneypenny handles thousands of calls and live chats on behalf of care providers each day and has noted a significant spike in people’s anxiety levels since the start of the year.

In particular, Moneypenny has recorded a 10% increase in the number of interactions (across telephone and live chat) they’re handling with highly anxious customers – that is people who are in a heightened state of emotional distress.  And, as callers become more anxious, call durations to care providers increase as it takes people longer to explain their worries, find the answers and seek reassurance.

Lauren Williams, who heads up Moneypenny’s work in the care sector, believes increasingly anxious callers are the result of a perfect storm of events.  She said: “We’ve just come through a pandemic which has been especially challenging for care sector professionals and for patients and their families.[2] This on its own is enough to make people need more reassurance about care provision – but combine it with the already well publicised recruitment crisis facing the care sector, the increasing cost of living and global political uncertainty and you can see why concerns are on the increase.”

According to Moneypenny caller and live-chatter anxieties manifest in a number of ways.  Over the phone the cues are often audible as people struggle to articulate themselves and fight back emotion. Via live chat, which offers a degree of anonymity for customers, certain words such as ‘worry’ ‘concern’ ‘emergency’ and ‘frightened’ help Moneypenny’s team to quickly identify those with more complex and/or emotional needs.

Lauren said: “People are often more expressive over live chat than the telephone and share more detail about themselves.  This can be tremendously important in helping to solve the issue as quickly as possible, but it also reveals how terribly worried people are about care provision. The rising cost of living is almost certainly the biggest factor influencing people’s concerns right now.”

In particular Moneypenny has seen a significant increase in people asking basic questions about care provision – such as how care is paid for, and when is the time is right to get professional help.  These insights reinforce findings from a survey at the end of 2021 which revealed that 33% of adults are concerned about parent’s physical health, but 81% are reluctant to discuss care with their parents and 40% would be unwilling to have elderly parents move in with them.

For Bluebird Care, which provides in-home care for thousands of elderly patients across the UK, the need to offer reassurance and information in tandem is crucial.

Dean Martin, National Marketing Manager at Bluebird Care said: “When people don’t discuss care provision with their families it leaves lot of questions unanswered.  We know that although it’s possible to find some answers online, for something as personal as care for a loved one people want to speak to a person, or know they’re interacting with one. It’s why we’re making sure that customers can always reach us, and that they’ll always be met with the understanding they need.”

Moneypenny’s Lauren concluded:  “The pandemic really highlighted just how important empathy is, especially within the care sector.  Choosing a care provider and finding the answers to often sensitive and emotional  questions requires a level of understanding and compassion. With financial difficulties on the horizon for many, we expect to see a continued increase in anxious calls and live chats over the next six months. There has never been a greater need for care providers to ensure they’re delivering compassion as well as care.”

[1] Data from Home Instead survey

[2] Data from Home Instead survey

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