Transforming tech at South Essex Wildlife Hospital: How Neos-IT increased capacity and improved staff wellbeing 

Transforming tech at South Essex Wildlife Hospital: How Neos-IT increased capacity and improved staff wellbeing 

Star of a new Channel 4 series, South Essex Wildlife Hospital provides an invaluable 24/7 emergency service, dealing with everything from injured birds of prey to rescued baby seals. As neighbours of Neos-IT’s Greg Wright, we couldn’t help but get involved. 

Read on to discover:

  • Why nesting ring-necked doves led to the start of an IT partnership 
  • How modern cloud telephony and call queue management has made a real difference – both to the capacity of the team, and their mental wellbeing.

A partnership forged by accident 

South Essex Wildlife Hospital, a rescue, rehabilitation and public advice charity, was formed in 1995 out of a local need but has since grown to care for more than 200 patients at any one time. No sick, injured or orphaned animal is turned away, meaning the charity runs a 24/7 emergency service staffed by a mix of skilled veterinary staff, volunteers and founder Sue Schwar herself. 

They regularly deal with anything from hedgehogs to badgers, foxes and deer to owls, swans and seals – making them the perfect subjects for a new Channel 4 documentary. 

Neos-IT’s Greg Wright came across South Essex Wildlife Hospital almost by chance. Ring-necked doves were nesting in his garden and he noticed that the nest seemed to be abandoned with fledglings. That led to a fateful visit to a wildlife hospital on the outskirts of Orsett in search of advice. Sue Schwar, the hospital’s founder, was grateful that Greg hadn’t left the issue until the late evening, when they tended to get an influx of calls. 

Understanding the need 

In springtime when nature is at its most active, the charity can receive up to 400 calls a day. When Greg first visited in spring 2022, the team relied on a single domestic phone line which was ringing off the hook. They could only answer one call at a time on a single handset, and it never stopped ringing. Many of the calls were to confirm the address or get directions to the site and, worse still, the team regularly received aggressive or abusive calls (a common problem with any emergency service). 

“I was a slave to that phone. We’d get complaints on Facebook and Twitter saying the phone was always engaged. We were trying our best. We just didn’t have capacity,” says Sue Schwar. 

Having received some expert advice on his fledglings, Greg got thinking about how, as an IT provider, Neos-IT could support a charity that was clearly a valued local resource. 

The solution: Cloud telephony transforming the life of the team 

In response to a clear need for better telephone services, Neos-IT installed a 3CX cloud telephony system, allowing the team to field up to eight calls concurrently – all free of charge. We also set up call queuing where the team of up to four could monitor inbound calls during peak times like springtime. Setting up call recording to capture any challenging calls also went some way to protecting the wellbeing of staff on the receiving end, as well as improving case note taking; no details were missed as the team could listen back at any time. 

Sue told us that a lot of people were calling just for directions to the hospital, taking up a lot of time and effort from the team answering the calls. So, we set up introductory messages on the calls giving more details about how to find the site, reducing the number of calls going through to the team. 

Previously, the phone continued to ring through the night with a brief message giving instructions about how to access the site with emergencies. Sue told us that a lot of people were calling multiple times to make sure they’d got the information written down, adding up to multiple calls Sue would be disturbed by, disrupting her sleep and profoundly impacting her wellbeing. As a result, we’ve implemented a modern night service with dedicated information messages and then keypad options to be put through to the hospital to report genuine emergencies, wake the team and trigger intake procedures. Now, when Sue gets a call in the early hours, she can be confident it’s a genuine emergency. “It’s been an absolute gamechanger in terms of my mental wellbeing and sleep deprivation,” she says. 

Finally, we set up reporting. As a registered charity with trustees, monthly meetings and an AGM, South Essex Wildlife Hospital is accountable to stakeholders about levels of service use. By providing easy to access statistics about the flow of inbound enquiries, the team can more effectively allocate finances and carry out resource planning. 

Clear results – for the charity, and its people 

By reducing calls to only necessary emergencies and enquiries, the team has greater capacity, enabling them to continue to offer services to more animals in need. It’s also made a real difference to the stress experienced by the team, and to Sue’s wellbeing in particular. 

We’re incredibly proud to have provided a small piece of technology that’s transformed how South Essex Wildlife Hospital can manage capacity and do the great work they do. They’re so delighted, they’ve referred us to a wildlife sanctuary in South Wales they have links to, also running off a single phone line.

Whether or not you’re a charity, we’d love to apply our technical expertise to the issues you face. Get in touch to speak to Greg and the team.