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!
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.”
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!
As 2016 winds down, we’d like to reflect on the year that was both at iCarol and in the industry we serve, and look ahead to exciting things on the horizon for our clients and partner organizations.
We continue to take advantage of the fluid nature of web-based software by regularly enhancing iCarol. In 2015, we were proud to have released over 1,600 coding changes and enhancements to your iCarol systems. But for 2016, we’re on track to more than double that with a release of over 4,000 improvements. This is a reflection of our expanded Technology team at the direction of our new Product Management team. We’re with you on this journey, and this exemplifies our commitment to ongoing innovation and building iCarol to evolve and grow with the needs of your service and your community.
As we add on capabilities and as our user base grows, we know the importance of our infrastructure providing a stable foundation for the work you do in iCarol. Therefore, this summer we installed a state-of-the-art network storage appliance and fine-tuned our code for performance, which resulted in our total system uptime being on track to hit 99.975% for the year, well exceeding our stated target of 99.9% and considered by the industry to be excellent. Nothing is more important to us than helping you help people, and we know that a reliable connection to our software is critical to your mission. We will continue to invest in tools and technologies over the coming year that allow our infrastructure to scale and perform well, as we expect 2017 to be another year of growth for us.
In our travels to conferences and ongoing conversations with helpline industry leaders, we took note of the major trends either emerging or magnifying, including:
- Identifying and addressing “social determinants of health” so that people in need can be more systematically helped across the spectrum of medical, health, human and social services. We’re seeing partnerships in our client base and directly ourselves with other firms to help contribute to this trend and advance it in the years to come.
- Greater focus on “outcomes” rather than “outputs” – while this has been in motion for quite a few years, we’re seeing an increased focus on what composes a true “outcome”, as well as the use of much more advanced analytic tools like business intelligence to glean insights about the true outcomes that help seekers experience as a result of being served by you.
- The continued increased use of channels other than phone to seek help, like live chat, text messaging and social media.
So with 2016 almost in our rearview, what comes next? Looking forward to 2017, we intend to invest heavily in iCarol’s product capabilities in the following areas to stay ahead of the progress we’re seeing:
- Dramatically improved reporting
- Support for continuity of care
- Revised and improved follow-ups and outcome tracking
- Continued improvements to iCarol’s already robust support for popular channels like chat and text
- Enabling resource search and initiation of chats from the most popular social media venues
- Increased accuracy of resource data and search results for help seekers
In closing, we hope that 2016 has been a good year for you personally and also for your agencies. The work you do continues to be a source of inspiration and motivation for us, and we wish you nothing but the best this holiday season. We remain deeply honored to serve you, our clients, and look forward to another year of service and giving in 2017 and beyond.
Neil and Jacqueline McKechnie
CTO and CEO, Co-founders of iCarol Helpline Software
In response to the increased use of alternate communication channels for help seekers, many iCarol clients are adding Messaging to their iCarol systems. Using Messaging, you can communicate with your help seekers via chat or text. As with other areas of iCarol, sometimes issues can arise that require making a report to the iCarol Support Team. The preferred method to communicate with the iCarol Support Team is to submit a case via the Online Case Management Tool. Please click here for more information on how to submit a case. When the issue is in regards to iCarol Messaging however, there is another tool that we encourage you to use to report issues with this area of iCarol.
This tool is called the Report Incident Tool and is found at the bottom of the counselor’s screen when addressing a Messaging conversation.
Any user can us this tool to report an issue. When one clicks Report Incident, a small form will appear in a pop-up window. Please enter a concise Subject that describes the issue, and then use the Description text box to further describe the issue in as much detail as possible.
Once the security code is entered, and the “Report Incident” button clicked, a case will be created and sent to the iCarol Support Team. This case will also appear in the Online Case Management tool. All cases created in this manner are named “Messaging Incident #xxxx: Subject”. For example, the name of the incident shown in the screenshot above might be “Messaging Incident #2650: Strange symbols appearing in chat conversation”. The case will be appropriately attributed to your agency. The first available member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and begin the investigation of the issue.
The benefit of submitting Messaging cases in this manner is that this tool conveys additional details about the specific Messaging conversation the user was addressing that helps the iCarol Support and Technical teams immensely when investigating issues. Some of the details conveyed include browsers being used, platforms being used, and whether the visitor was using a mobile device. The details can be extremely helpful in investigating and ultimately resolving an issue.
This quick and easy to use tool can be a benefit to you by conveying details “in the moment” so they are not forgotten. It can cut down or eliminate conversations or emails between the user who experienced the issue and an Admin user who wants to report the issue to iCarol Support. It can also mean that issues are reported faster, which could lead to faster investigation and resolution of the issue.
As always, if you have any questions about the Report Incident tool, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact the iCarol Support team!
The Frank Capra Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” tops many lists for holiday viewing, and it’s already making the rounds on TV channels everywhere (check your local listings!). But have you ever stopped and thought about how this popular and enduring holiday program centers around the topic of one man’s suicide plan? Most people view the film casually and for them the suicide aspect of the story may take a backseat to the other major themes. For anyone working in the suicide prevention or crisis industry though, it’s hard not to view the film from that unique perspective.
13 thoughts of crisis workers when watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”
- It bothers you that the movie perpetuates the myth that suicide rates go up at Christmastime
- You’re envious of the detailed and factual background Clarence has on George, and think of how helpful this would be when working with your clients
- You know of a dozen people you’ve spoken to this month who are in way worse circumstances than George, but knowing how complex and unique suicide can be for each person you’d never judge George for feeling how he does
- You can list all the warning signs that George is giving, and yell at the other characters for not picking up on them
- Even better, you wish someone would talk to George about his behavior and ask him directly if he was thinking of suicide
- You cheer on Mary when she calls a family member to talk about how George was behaving, and doesn’t keep his behavior a secret. Mary – 1 Stigma and Shame – 0
- George’s story reminds you of all the people you’ve spoken to that thought their suicide would be what’s best for their family
- You note the high lethality of George’s plan for suicide
- And think of how more bridges need suicide barriers for this very reason
- It angers you when Clarence tells George he “shouldn’t say such things” when George discusses suicide, effectively shutting him down and judging him rather than listening to why he feels this way.
- You’re relieved when George finds his reasons for living
- You’re thankful for the happy ending, but you know that it’s rarely wrapped up so easily
- You’re reminded of why you do the work you do
Have you had any of these thoughts while watching this classic film? Got any other thoughts to add? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment!
And while you may not have wings, we know the countless individuals touched by your caring voices consider you all guardian angels. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to saving lives, during the holidays and all year ’round.
Back in October we noted that we are considering a change to the names and labels used for certain features of iCarol, in order to more accurately and inclusively reflect how these features are being used, and recognize the diverse services being offered by our users. We’ve gotten a lot of responses. Here’s just a glimpse at the results of our survey so far:
Question 1: If we were to rename the “Calls” page to better describe how you use that area of iCarol, what word would you use?
Top three choices:
Contacts, Conversations, Interactions
Question 2: If we were to rename “Caller Profiles” to also better describe the people who regularly use your service, what should we call it?
Top three choices:
Profiles, Clients, Familiar Users
Question 3: Would you be interested in providing more product feedback to us while we work to improve iCarol? What is the best way to invite your feedback?
Top three choices:
Email, In-app pop-up surveys, Dashboard
There’s still a little time left to give your input before we close this survey on December 7th so our team can take the next steps to analyze your responses, discuss, and make our own recommendation to move forward. Don’t miss your chance to give your valuable input to this discussion!
Do you want to write more compelling reports for funders and investors? One way to do that is to turn intangible outcomes into measurable financial quantities so they can learn what kind of return they can expect to get for their investment.
To learn more on this topic, you’re invited to attend an upcoming free webinar, “Introduction to Calculating Social Return on Investment” on November 15th at 1pm EDT.
We’re delighted to welcome Dustin MacDonald as our presenter. Dustin 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.
Space is limited — register today!
Happy Halloween from our gang of ghouls!
Next week Polly and Eliisa will be in Phoenix to participate in the NASCOD/CUSA conference.
This annual conference is special to us — it was one of the very first events that we started attending back many years ago when iCarol was first created and available as a software system for helplines. Many of the crisis centers that make up the NASCOD and CUSA groups were some of our first users and so this conference and this group of people holds a special place in our hearts.
If your center isn’t already accredited by CONTACT USA, or if you aren’t already a NASCOD member, we encourage you to consider both for your helpline.
CONTACT USA provides one of the most well known and respected crisis center accreditations in the industry. When you are accredited by CONTACT USA it shows your funders that they are contributing to a worthwhile and effective program, and also connects you to a national and international community of those who provide emotional support and crisis intervention all over the world. Further, your community will be assured that your organization provides the highest quality of service. To find out more about this accreditation, you can visit their website.
NASCOD membership is a great resource for Executive Directors or Program Managers of crisis centers. The group provides regular peer support calls on a number of different helpful topics, and group members are regularly networking, discussing challenges, sharing ideas, and generally supporting one another. Many NASCOD members are also iCarol clients and we really enjoy our relationship with the group and its members, iCarol users and non-users alike.
So if you’ll be one of the many people in Phoenix later this week, please stop by our booth and say hi! If you use iCarol at your helpline then we’d certainly love to get to visit face to face. If you’re not a current user, we’d be grateful for the opportunity to tell you about iCarol Helpline Software and how it’s used by helplines all over the world, many of whom will be represented at this conference. Hope to see you there!
More than a decade ago when iCarol was first created by two helpline volunteers, Neil and Jackie McKechnie, helpline work was very much based in serving people via the phone. And the phone remains a method of communication to this day for helplines all over the world.
Over the years though, as new technologies grew in popularity and availability, people increasingly turn to channels like chatting, texting, or connecting with services through websites. And helplines need to embrace these new channels to stay relevant and reach more people. The flexibility in iCarol enables helplines to capture important information regardless of the type of contact — our Call Report Forms are used to collect data on interactions, whether they happen over the phone, online, via text, or even at in-person visits from mobile crisis teams or walk-in clinics. But some of the verbiage inside iCarol still centers around calls as a primary service, like the main Calls page, Call reports, and Caller Profiles.
We know that many helplines have expanded services beyond the phone, and that iCarol plays an important role in your documentation of all channels. For that reason, we are considering a name change for the “Calls” section of iCarol to better describe what you do and how you use these features. Please take 2 minutes to give your input about this by taking a brief survey.