Still here for you

It’s been 20 years since the first phone call to RCN Direct. Find out what's happened two decades on

When RCN Direct first opened its phone lines on 1 March 1998, the latest telephone technology was being used to be there for members 24/7. Since then millions of queries have been answered and many members have been given the urgent support they need.

But times have changed and the RCN Direct office has been transformed. Much of the advice now provided to members is accessed online and the guides available on the RCN website are regularly updated so members can benefit from reliable information whenever and wherever they need it. 

Those seeking a more personalised approach have a range of ways to get in touch. Of course, a phone call is still what many prefer – and when you need detailed advice this is probably still the best way to contact the service. But now you can also email an RCN Direct adviser using an online form and a new live chat service will be expanding in 2018.

Helping members when they need us most remains central to everything we do

The reasons to get in touch have changed too. RCN Direct is now the first point of contact for the whole of the RCN and while advisers continue to help members from across the UK with workplace issues, they now do much more, such as providing access to counselling, checking statements and putting members in contact with welfare advisers. 

“We can now see what members are searching for so we can make sure the information we provide is relevant and easy to access. But we’re looking to develop interactive content too, which we hope will give members more choice about how they’d like to contact us,” says Advice Centre Manager Sally Ashman.

“Technology has transformed the way we work here at RCN Direct. But helping members when they need us most remains central to everything we do,” she adds.

Ask an adviser

Former nurse, health visitor and midwife Susan Edmunds has been helping members who phone RCN Direct since day one. She explains what attracted her to the role and how it's changed. 

RCN Direct Adviser Susan Edmonds

Why did you want to work for RCN Direct?

The job looked really interesting and the idea was innovative. I was working as a paediatric nurse at the time but also volunteered for a local telephone helpline charity. My experience fitted in well with the idea the RCN was developing. 

What can you recall about your first day?

I remember thinking how interesting it was to be working with others from different professions to mine. There was a great buzz around being involved in something new.

What’s the best thing about your role?

Supporting health care staff as this is where I come from and I enjoy working in a great professional organisation and team.

In what ways have things changed?

There have been improvements in our systems and technology which have supported our work. Over the years we’ve also taken on more variety in our roles like helping members by checking their statements. And now more than ever we focus on achieving really excellent customer service.

How do you see RCN Direct developing?

I think we’ll be using technology more and more and finding different ways of communicating with members. Members will be able to help themselves  with the information we provide. I expect we’ll have more flexible ways to pay for the services we offer, perhaps through apps and smart phones but whatever happens we’ll continue to listen to members and take their needs into account.

What members say... 

“It was very quick and easy to contact RCN Direct using their live chat service. No hanging on in a queue and having to be focused on just a call and unable to do anything else. I could type in my problem and while the response was being researched or typed, I continued with my other tasks. I was able to read the advice provided and have time to consider my response.

"The advice was well researched, up-to-date and supportive. My dispute is with the HR department at my trust. Without the support of the RCN I would probably have just rolled over and let things happen to me. 

"I’d have no hesitation in using this service again. After 30 years of paying into RCN and not using the advisory service, I was most impressed. I’ve already highly recommended them to my colleagues.” 

Find out more

Whether you're employed by the NHS or the independent sector, an agency worker, self-employed or a student member, you can get help from RCN Direct. Practical online advice can help you resolve workplace problems or you can call advisers on 0345 772 6100 between 8.30am to 8.30pm 365 days a year. 

Words by Sharon Palfrey

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