Guest post by Frances Bartlett
“We get calls from newly diagnosed people and their family members–often, they’re in shock and looking for reassurance,” says Sheryl Harding, MS Navigator with the MS Knowledge Network at the MS Society of Canada. “We hear from people at every stage of the disease, from caregivers and from people who work with individuals living with MS.”
The Knowledge Network is a hub of people, who we call navigators, who provide reliable, high-quality multiple sclerosis information and support for anyone in Canada. MS Navigators like Sheryl are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET via phone, email, and Live Chat.
“People call with questions about practical matters, like income and employment supports,” says Sheryl. “They want to know what services and resources they can find in their community and how to apply for the CPP disability benefit. They want to know about research and clinical trials. They have questions about symptom management and how to talk to their kids about MS.”
Like the disease itself, no two calls to the MS Knowledge Network are the same. In fact, according to Jennifer McDonell, Senior Specialist, Programs & Pharma Relations at the MS Society, this complexity is what inspired the Knowledge Network.
“MS is something you need to be able to live with. The more you know, and the better equipped you are to manage the disease, the better off you’ll be.”
- Jennifer McDonell, Senior Specialist, Programs & Pharma Relations, MS Society of Canada
“There are typical patterns of MS, but no two people will have the exact same experience,” says Jennifer. “Reliability of information is crucial, because the symptoms can be so similar to other diseases, and people on treatments need to know as much about it as they can so they can better manage their disease and have good relationships with their healthcare teams.
“We launched the MS Knowledge Network to ensure that people have access to information that is consistent, accurate and up to date. Because the more you know, and the better equipped you are to manage the disease, the better off you’ll be.”
The MS Knowledge Network is designed for maximum accessibility. As Sheryl points out, “Some people prefer to contact us via email. Many people with cognitive challenges can’t access the Internet, but they can phone us. And Live Chat gives more anonymity if people don’t want to be heard or if they have difficulty with speech.”
MS Navigators are knowledgeable and empathetic. “Our navigators can help identify next steps,” says Jennifer. “They assess what a caller needs right now, and what they need in the longer term.”
Some needs can be met with a visit to the MS Society’s online Information Library, which has booklets and guides on all facets of life with MS. There are resources for young people with MS, on managing symptoms, health and wellness, family matters, and working with your healthcare team.
“We’re there for people, no matter where they live,” says Sheryl. “You can be in a huge city with resources and still feel isolated, or in a small town with few or no resources. The MS Knowledge Network levels the playing field, in terms of support.”
About the MS Knowledge Network:
MS Navigators are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m ET.
- Phone: 1-844-859-6789
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Live Chat: visit the Information and Support sections of www.mssociety.ca