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Celebrating 2-1-1 Day

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Each year, February 11th is celebrated as 2-1-1 day throughout North America.

2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember three digit number, but unlike 4-1-1 for directory assistance or 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies, the focus of 2-1-1 is to provide people with comprehensive information and referral to various human services in their communities.

Rather than spend hours of frustration going it alone calling around to various agencies or surfing the web, help-seekers can make 2-1-1 their first call for assistance and speak to a trained specialist that can spend time evaluating their needs, educating them about resources, and then connect them with the appropriate services. These 2-1-1 agencies widen their reach by making their services available via chat, texting, and integrating their well-curated database of resources into their website. They also build partnerships with other providers by sharing their resource information and making it available to collaborators in a multitude of ways. Of course, iCarol is delighted to help a large percentages of 2-1-1s across Canada and the United States tap into these tools and innovation to help their communities.

iCarol is proud to be working with so many 211 providers whose organizations provide a vital service to their communities by connecting millions of people to essential services each year. If you work at a 2-1-1 and celebrated this day at your helpline, whether it’s just a small occasion or large outreach event, we want to hear from you! Send your stories and photos to so we can feature them on our blog and share your experiences with our readers and recognize your helpline.

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Where to Find Help when Using iCarol

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iCarol is a large and complex piece of software, and every client uses it a little differently. Some clients use some features, and other clients use other features. Client needs also change over time, necessitating the discontinuation, addition or adjustment of processes and policies. We understand that there is turnover in our client agencies, so training new staff or volunteers is a continuous need.

We are here to help! We have a number of self-serve options for training and notification of new features and enhancements. We encourage all of our clients to explore the information available through these options to assist you with building and maintaining your knowledge of how to use iCarol to meet your needs.

iCarol Help Page – Online Video Tutorials and other training and informational material

To access the Help page, simply click Help in the left hand menu when you are logged into iCarol.

Training page

The Help Page is organized into sections representing the major features of iCarol – Volunteers and Staff, Shift Calendar, Call Reports, Messaging, Resources, and Statistics and Reporting. Each section has a number of videos or other documents (for example, PowerPoint presentations) explaining how to use the different features in iCarol. Feel free to use any of these materials in your own training programs at your agency.

iCarol Help Page – Help Articles

To access iCarol Help Articles, click Help form the left hand menu when you are logged into iCarol, then, at the top of the page, click “Help articles – browse solutions to common questions”.

Help articles page

You can search for help articles in a few different ways. You can enter a word or phrase in the text box next to the Search button, and then click the Search button. You can refine this search to a particular category by choosing a category from the drop-down menu below the search text box. Or, you can browse through the various categories and sub-categories listed on the screen by clicking on the name of a category. For example, the screenshot below shows the help articles available in the category Calls, sub-category Call Reports – Create & Submit Call Reports.

Help articles

iCarol staff are continually updating and expanding the Help article database as new features, enhancements and updates are released.

iCarol Dashboard – Announcements, tips and tricks

Users with Admin or Supervisor security status can access the iCarol Dashboard, which contains an Announcements, tips and tricks section. To access, simply click Home in the left hand menu when logged into iCarol.

Dashboard

This section contains posts about updates, new features, upcoming webinars, and more. Due to space limitations, you will likely only see the latest 3-4 posts displayed. To view earlier posts, scroll down to the bottom of this section and click the link labeled “See all news”.

iCarol Blogs

To access the iCarol blog page, access the iCarol website at www.icarol.com, then click Blog at the top of the page.

blog

The iCarol Blog contains a variety of articles that pertain to the iCarol software as well as other topics we feel would be of interest to helplines, such as Bell Let’s Talk Day, as shown above. Please note, you can subscribe to the iCarol Blog by filling out the small form you see in the lower right hand corner of the screenshot above. Doing so will deliver a weekly Blog Digest to you via email.

iCarol Quarterly Newsletter

To sign up for the iCarol newsletter, access the iCarol website at www.icarol.com, click Blog at the top of the screen, then click Newsletter along the right hand side of the screen.

newsletter sign up

The newsletter will be delivered to your email inbox. Articles include trends, tips, downloads and iCarol updates, including things like worldwide news and events, helpline best practices, iCarol product and feature updates, testimonials from iCarol users, Case studies of helplines, non-profit and charity contact centers, ask the expert and more.

Finally, if you are unable to find the answer to a question you have, you are welcome to submit a case to the iCarol Support Team using the Online Case Management system. This is accessed by clicking Help in the left hand menu when you are logged into iCarol, then, at the top of the screen, clicking “Cases – contact the iCarol Support Team”.

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Honoring World Cancer Day

iCarol Webinars

Saturday, February 4, 2017 marks World Cancer Day. This year’s theme, “We Can. I Can.” was chosen to inspire individuals and communities to take actions to help prevent and fight cancer.

Empire State Building lit blue and orange in honor of World Cancer Day
Image: Cancer.org
World Cancer Day Empire State Building
According to the American Cancer Society, over 8 million people worldwide die from cancer every year, making cancer a global health priority. This year, communities around the world will hold walks, seminars, and public campaigns to raise awareness and educate others on how to eliminate cancer by taking various steps, including cancer screenings, healthy eating, physical activity, and smoking cessation.

Cancer advocates agree there are certain steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of cancer, including making healthy lifestyle choices, knowing the signs and symptoms, being aware of early detection guidelines, and supporting cancer patients and survivors during and after cancer treatments.

As a community, we can all educate others about the link between lifestyle and cancer, dispel cancer myths, encourage healthy living habits at schools and in the workplace, and improve access to affordable care.

Helplines, warmlines, and information & referral services around the world can mark this occasion by spreading awareness of cancer prevention methods and even incorporating a few health workplace activities at their own organization. Together, we can reduce the global burden of cancer and make fighting cancer a priority in our own communities.

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Key benefits of iCarol for Lifeline and Crisis Center Work

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Many of our clients participate in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline is a network of over 160 crisis centers in the U.S. These centers take calls and chats from all across the country, focusing on suicide prevention. These free and confidential services provide crisis support and community resource referrals, 24-hours a day.

Members of the Lifeline network follow proven protocols and guidelines to ensure safe outcomes for those in crisis. Whether you offer crisis services and/or are part of the Lifeline network, protocols and guidelines are critical to the success of your program. Ensuring they are easy to follow not only gives you better outcomes for those in crisis, but makes it easier for your staff and volunteers to do their important work.

I’m often asked by members of the Lifeline network and others in the field doing crisis center work why they should choose iCarol. Very simply put, iCarol is the expert in helping not-for-profit helplines set up their technology, to best support the protocols mentioned above.

In my experience managing a not-for-profit helpline who took calls for the Lifeline, as well as helping iCarol clients do the same, here is how iCarol can help:

  • Messaging built right in! Volunteers and staff sign into one system—iCarol—to handle calls for your agencies, calls for the Lifeline, and even chats for the Lifeline, or your own chats or texts. Read more here.

  • A live risk assessment gauge, developed by the Lifeline for iCarol, calculates suicide risk in real-time, and provides instructions on the next steps with each risk level. Learn more about this tool.

  • Intelligently designed call report forms allow for different ‘paths’ for your call takers. Example: If the call is a Lifeline call, a set of questions appears appropriate for that. Or, if the call is for a different program your agency takes calls for, have a different set of questions pop up.

  • Worried that your workers aren’t following certain protocols for imminent risk callers? Take what is described above a step further to make the response(s) required or not. This reduces error, as well as can provide crucial guidance about next steps for the call taker in tense situations.

  • Help your workers to provide referrals to community resources, designed in a very easy-to-use interface, even for a worker who is only there a few hours a week can use.

  • Provide staff feedback—right in iCarol—to the call taker. This feedback can be private, or visible to all. Perhaps they did not follow a certain protocol of the Lifeline, or another program appropriately. We give you the industry’s best way to provide them this feedback. It alerts them when they log in, to read their feedback, and then tracks it when they do!

  • Legal lock of call reports: Did something happen on an interaction that may be subpoenaed or looked into more? You can put a legal lock on it to ensure that no one, even the administrative users in your system, can make changes to it.

Hands down, iCarol is the best solution to support your work with the Lifeline, or other programs.

Want to learn more? Start a free trial or contact me.

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Join us for Bell Let’s Talk Day

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Wednesday January 25th is a big day for Canadian mental health initiatives: It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day!

This annual event draws attention to mental health, particularly the stigma attached to mental illness that prevents many from seeking help. The idea is that if we all talk more openly about mental health and are open to conversations about it, it will lessen the shame attached to mental illness. Bell also champions access to care, workplace mental health, and research.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, people are encouraged to take to social media and discuss the topics of mental health and mental illness, and use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on platforms like Instagram and Twitter, and watching a video on the Bell Let’s Talk image via Bell’s Facebook page. For participating in these various social media activities using the hashtag, Bell donates $.05 to mental health initiatives and programs across Canada (including many services that are part of the iCarol family!). Bell customers can also participate by texting or making calls. Find out more about how to take part.

To learn more about the impact of Bell Let’s Talk, check out the video below. And check out the Bell Let’s Talk website for more information and a toolkit with everything you need to participate. We hope you’ll follow us on Twitter and Tweet along with us to raise awareness and remove the stigma from the conversation about mental health!

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iCarol Webinar: Assessing Risk of Intimate Partner Violence

Webinars

Your helpline is a trusted source of listening support, and even if you don’t advertise your service as specializing in topics of intimate partner violence or sexual violence, there’s a good chance many of the people that reach you are at risk.

Join us for a free webinar to learn more about using the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment (SARA) tool to help assess one’s risk, explore ways to reduce that risk, and provide assistance to your clients.

When: Wednesday January 18, 2017

Time: 1pm EDT

You Will Learn:

  • About different types of risk assessments
  • The goals of using the SARA risk assessment
  • The differences between Dynamic and Static Risk Factors
  • What information should be available to complete an assessment
  • Ideas for implementing use of this tool at your helpline
  • And more!

Presenter: Dustin MacDonald is a Registered Social Service Worker (RSSW) who has been involved with helplines including Distress Centre Durham for the previous 5 years, as well as performing quality assurance, producing analytics and forecasting for the Ontario Online & Text Crisis Services program of Distress and Crisis Ontario. He brings to these roles an understanding of statistics and experience performing a variety of program evaluations and assessments. We’re very pleased to welcome him as our presenter.

We hope you can join us for this webinar!

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Add your logo to Call Report Form PDFs

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In our most recent release we added an enhancement that many may find useful — you can now add your organization’s logo to the top of call reports when they are generated into PDFs.

Creating a PDF of a call report form is useful for a number of reasons. Forms that are made into PDFs can be easily saved, printed, or emailed if needed. You can also conduct an advanced search of your call reports in iCarol, and then generate the resulting forms into a single PDF. This can be useful if you’d like to print or save a number of forms together at one time.

In instances where you may be saving or printing and then sending these forms to a third party, having your organization’s logo on that PDF can be extremely helpful in easily identifying the source of the PDF and attributing ownership to your service. When your funders and collaborators receive the PDF they can easily identify it as being from you. This also adds a professional touch to your form and an element of branding.

This enhancement is available to all iCarol subscribers and can be set up by anyone with Admin permissions. Here are the steps you take to enable this enhancement:

    To upload your logo:
  • Log into iCarol as an Admin
  • Click on “Admin Tools” from the left menu
  • From the Setup tab, click on “upload your agency’s logo and mission statement”

  • Add logo to iCarol

  • From the new page that opens, add your logo to the bottom section by following step 1 and step 2 to browse for and upload a logo

From there, you can decide individually which of your call report forms should have the logo appear when a PDF is made of that type of call report form, using the following steps:

  • Log into iCarol as an Admin, or an account with Call Report editing permissions
  • Click on “Calls” from the left menu
  • Click on “Manage Call Report Forms”
  • Click on “Edit this form” from under the Call Report version
  • Click on “Overall settings for this call report form” from the top of the page
  • Click on the setting “Put the Org’s logo at the top of each page on PDF’s of the call report” from under the “Other Features” section

  • Enable logo on PDF

  • Click “Save Settings”

Once these simple steps are complete, any PDFs generated from the selected call report form will include your logo in the upper left of the document.

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Quarterly Enhancement Webinar coming soon

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It’s almost time for our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar, the first of 2017, which will occur on Monday January 9th at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review several features released to iCarol in recent months, plus we’ll speak a bit to enhancements coming soon.

These webinars are typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin or Supervisor security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Interested, but can’t make it on the 9th? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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The iCarol Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Vols – Christmas

Regardless of which of the season’s holidays you may celebrate, or even if you celebrate none at all, we hope you were able to enjoy some quality time with family and friends, listen to festive music, and partake in lots of yummy food and beverages. And, if you were really lucky, maybe you even scored some good presents, too!

One of the time-honored traditions of Christmastime is the Secret Santa gift exchange, and this year our team took part in that, in spite of the physical distance between us, and being unable to do some of the other traditional holiday activities like having an office party. We wanted to share the fun with you guys.

Crystal gifted Mary with some beautiful decorations for her work space, all holding special meaning. Mary says:

    “The tree statue is especially special because it combines 3 of my favorite things: green (my favorite color), nature, and stones/minerals – something only a Secret Santa would know. These gifts are so “me” and I couldn’t be more thankful!”

All Donna wanted for Christmas was world peace and a nice glass of wine. Her Secret Santa, Mary, delivered — a lovely peace-oriented ornament and some cute snowmen to decorate wine glasses.

Donna played Santa to Carmen with a gift of cupcakes. Carmen says:

    “Back when I started at iCarol, I told Donna about the various staff meetings I participated in at my old employer, Distress Centre Calgary. Snacks were almost always provided, and the snack that was always a particular hit were cupcakes from Crave, a gourmet cupcake store here in Calgary. From that point forward, mentioning cupcakes at iCarol staff meetings became a thing, with some discussion of how we might deliver cupcakes to everyone scattered over North America for our virtual staff meetings. So, the fact that Donna remembered this and sent such a gift was extremely thoughtful. Thank you Donna, they were delicious! (I think I need to go buy more…)”

Carmen surprised her recipient, Polly, with a beautiful handcrafted paintbrush holder for her art supplies, which Polly loved. And it came not a moment too soon, as Polly was considering making something just like this for herself!

Dana is an avid bird watcher and has an extensive collection of owl items. She’s also a coffee enthusiast. Christa produced a perfect pair of gifts for Dana — a funny owl coffee mug, and an adult coloring book full of owl drawings waiting to be filled in with bright colors. Dana put the coffee mug to use almost immediately after she received it!

Dana was Diana’s Secret Santa. Being a lover of both caffeine and “The Golden Girls,” Diana received a sampling of various teas, and a Golden Girls-themed mug to enjoy them with.

Wendy’s Secret Santa was Eliisa. Wendy says:

    “I got my Secret Santa from Eliisa and it is awesome. These are 2 new dish towels that are super fun and a great design that I have not seen. I love gifts that are functional and fun. It was just great to receive a gift from further away from a colleague for Christmas.”

Secret Santa Wendy

Rachel and Wendy played Secret Santa for Neil and Jackie. A big baseball fan, Rachel gifted Neil with the book “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend.” Wendy sent Jackie something that would remind her of the great white north and her Canadian roots — a pair of bear claw salad tongs!

We hope you enjoyed some holiday fun and perhaps an office party or Secret Santa exchange of your own. We’d love to share in the fun you had, please Tweet us your helpline’s holiday fun or leave a comment below!

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SAMHSA releases new funding opportunities, data

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced several funding opportunities as well as new data available for review.

    SAMHSA to award nearly $1 billion in new grants to address the nation’s opioid crisis
    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today announced the availability of new funding to combat the prescription opioid and heroin crisis. The funds, made available through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants, will provide up to $970 million to states and territories over the next … Read More

    SAMHSA released a number of new data files to its archives including:
    2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Public-Use Files
    2012 National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS)
    2014 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS)
    and more all available here

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