HealthLink BC 811 Help Line
By Guest Journalist Lilianne Fuller
Do you want to talk to registered dietician? Are you looking for professional advice before starting a new fitness regime? Perhaps you need information about a new drug being prescribed for arthritis. Then look no further than calling 811. Commonly known as the Nurse Line, there is much more to 811 than simply accessing the services of a registered nurse.
811 is a free provincial health information and advice phone line operated by HealthLink BC, which is a part of the Ministry of Health. By calling 811, you can talk to a Health Service Navigator who will connect you with a registered dietician, a qualified exercise professional, or even a pharmacist.
Robin Masters is a registered personal trainer and an ActivAge™ Choose to Move Activity Coach. Choose to Move is a program designed to encourage older adults to stay healthy and active long into their senior years. In her role, as a coach, she instructs seniors about what is available in their community. She recommends 811 as a trusted and accurate way to obtain information – especially for seniors. “I think the 811 service enhances the lives of seniors because they can get instant health information directly in one call,” she said. “It’s accurate, trusted, and bottled at the source, so to speak. It’s easy to navigate whether you call 811 or look online,” she explains.
Often overlooked, pharmacists play a key role in our health care system. An 811 pharmacist can provide answers to your medication related questions. For example, what are the common side effects of a medication? Will over-the-counter medications like natural health products conflict with your medication? Is this medication safe to use if pregnant or breastfeeding? How should this medication be stored? And much more.
Luisa Roberts needed bowel surgery because of severe diverticular disease. Diverticular disease can develop if a person is not consuming enough dietary fibre. This causes pouches to form in the colon and when the pouches become infected or inflamed, a person will experience pain and nausea. In some cases, surgery is required. This was true for Luisa, and she knew needed to change her eating habits if she wanted to avoid further surgery. From attending a Choose to Move class, she found out that she could talk to a registered dietician, so she called and was very impressed with the service. “I was connected with a professional who took my history and asked me a series of questions to describe my eating habits, she says. “I was frantically taking notes about available resources and said that to her. She asked if I had access to a computer because she could send me links to everything we had discussed. If I didn’t have a computer, she said she would be happy to put everything in the mail for me,” she adds.
Perhaps you want to become more active but have concerns because of your age and ability. Calling 811 is a great place to start. You will be connected with a qualified exercise professional who can screen you to determine a safe level and type of physical activity. This service is also available for health professionals to assist their patients achieve a better level of fitness.
Tanya Fedoruk is a mother of two young children, so she has utilized 811 on numerous occasions to consult with a registered nurse. But it came as a surprise to her that 811 was a gateway to more health-related services. “I actually didn’t know that 811 offered so much,” she said. “I have a busy life and I want to get more active. Now I know that I can talk to a qualified professional, I will,” she said with a smile.
It doesn’t surprise Masters that many among the general public are unaware of everything available using 811. She points to the almost overwhelming amount of information to be found online which isn’t always accurate. “I think we are so inundated with information and media today that it’s not that hard to go ‘down the rabbit hole’ and be misled,” she explains. “It’s important to trust data from sources we know are credible, backed by science and from established regulating bodies. HealthLink (811) serves the public as well as the medical community,” she continued. “As a specialty instructor, I am responsible for my client’s safety. Whether you have Osteoporosis or are in rehabilitation from a stroke, have high blood pressure or have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the 811 line is my trusted resource in helping you,” she adds.
811 is easily accessible and available in 130 languages. Simply state the language you need, and an interpreter will be made available. If you are deaf or hearing impaired, you can access 811 using video relay services (VRS) or a Teletypewriter (TTY). To use VRS visit www.srvcanadavrs.ca/en/ and give them the number 604-215-5101 to call 811.
Health related answers are just a call away. Just pick up the phone and call 811. HealthLink BC Services are also accessible online at https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-services/healthlink-bc-811-services or simply Google: 811.
Lilianne Fuller is a freelance writer who lives and works in Langley, BC. Semi-retired, her focus is on various human-interest stories for print and online media. Lilianne has lived in Langley for 39 years and has volunteered for many community organizations. Currently she is the Public Relations Chair for the Langley Field Naturalists. In her spare time Lilianne also coordinates the Nicomekl School Lunch Program. She is married and has two grandsons.