This chapter was last reviewed and/or updated April 2021.

1. Telephone Use

When allocated as key worker, the practitioner accepts responsibility for being the customer’s main point of contact. Any calls received by Customer Service Centre (CSC) relating to an open case will be diverted to the key worker. The CSC does not operate a message taking or case note recording service on behalf of key workers.

Staff members should directly answer their phone calls when available. This ensures customers are treated as a priority, are not put at inadvertent risk, and avoids preventable delays in communication. It also prevents colleagues from being unnecessarily interrupted with calls and message taking.

If you are unsure about how to use the telephone system, please contact your local team leader who will arrange for a Business Support team member to assist you.

1.1 Correct procedure

  • If you are at your desk, you must be logged into your phone and answer when it rings.
  • If you are out of the office, you must pair your desk phone to your mobile so you are still able to take calls coming through to your extension number.
  • The consequences of urgent messages being left on voicemail without response may be significant. Voicemail functions should be used with caution to ensure it is only active at times where the message can be picked up within 24 hours. All voicemail messages should state that if a response is needed within 24 hours, an alternative (and stated) number should be called. This alternative number should be a local phone number which is covered during office hours. The CSC number should not be the alternative number.
  • If you are unable to take a call or you are unable to deal with a voicemail message within 24 hours, you should forward calls to a designated hunt group number within your team. This will enable a member of your team to resolve the query.
  • You must respond to messages as soon as you become available.
  • If you are on leave, your voicemail and email out of office message should reflect this, and include the date you expect to return. Your message should also give the caller the option to contact another team member or officer and should provide the necessary contact details. Email out of office messages should be set to reply to internal and external senders.
  • If you receive a contact on behalf of a colleague and you are unable to resolve the matter, you should take a message which includes:
    • the date and time of the call;
    • the caller’s name;
    • where they are from (company, institution etc);
    • the return contact number;
    • brief details of the reason for the call;
    • the stated estimated time in which a return call will be made to the caller.
  • Messages received by Business Support staff will be emailed via an urgent email or telephone request form to the appropriate officer.
  • All staff Outlook calendars and contact details (for example, People Finder) must be kept up to date. This will reduce time spent locating staff or the possibility of sending a message to unavailable staff.
  • At times, when key workers are not available to take calls, calls may be diverted to your local Business Support Team’s generic hunt-group number. Under no circumstances should calls be diverted to an individual Business Support staff member or a dedicated reception phone.
  • Where a staff member is unexpectedly unavailable to take calls, their line manager must ensure that telephone and email contacts are addressed as soon as possible to minimise the chances of urgent contacts being missed, and that the following steps are taken:
    • the staff member’s desk number should be unpaired from the mobile phone and diverted to the local covered landline or appropriate hunt group;
    • the desk number’s voicemail should be deactivated;
    • unless the staff member is able to activate the out of office email reply, an urgent request should be sent as high priority to the IT service desk requesting this;
    • the staff member should ensure that their mobile phone is switched off and their voicemail function is deactivated.

2. Secure Email

When sending emails containing personal or sensitive information to external recipients, we must ensure we take the necessary precautions to protect this information.

LCC’s Secure Email Service allows you to send an email securely to any external email address using your standard Outlook account.

For further information or guidance please contact the Information Assurance Team at IA@lincolnshire.gov.uk.

3. Lone Worker Alarms

Front line Adult Care staff have been issued with Orbis lone worker alarms. This new device replaces the Reliance Alarms which were previously issued to teams.

The Orbis device uses the latest technology to help keep colleagues safe when they’re out and about doing their jobs. This device was chosen following successful trials by colleagues in Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue.

The device attaches to the back of a badge holder, making it easy to raise the alarm in most situations, simply with the press of a button. There are AMBER and RED alert functions in which Orbis operators experienced in handling emergency incidents can listen and assess the situation, locate the user and summon assistance if this is required. The device is equipped with GPS and network location technology to do this so a user can be located within a couple of metres.

Staff are required to ensure their devices are charged before every use. Nominated Business Support staff within each area have been set up as administrators on the Orbis Portal, and they can amend user details, order new devices, and transfer devices between leavers and new starters.

Further information is available on the Lone Worker Alarm page on the  council’s intranet site.