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Carmen Lovas

iCarol is your helpline software company that is here to make your job easier as Executive Director or leader of a non-profit contact center. Whether you have a crisis, help or 211 referral line, we are here to help you help more people in your community. Read more...

Using Custom Categories in iCarol

Categorizing your resources can help your staff and volunteers find appropriate resources for those in need. Rather than searching for a resource by name, they can search by a category and be presented with a list of resources matching that search term. The list of categories is completely customizable, and for those using the AIRS taxonomy, please note you can use both the taxonomy and custom categories if you wish.

To turn on the custom category feature in iCarol, follow these steps:

  • Click Admin Tools in the left hand menu
  • Click the Resources Tab
  • In the AIRS/211 Taxonomy section, click the box next to “Uses Categories as well as 211 Taxonomy” to place a check mark there
  • Click the “Save all settings” button at the top of the screen

Turn on Custom Categories

Once the feature is turned on, the next step is to create a list of custom categories. It may be useful to review the resources currently in your resource database to determine what category names to use that would best represent the kinds of services those resources offer. Please note, this tool can be used to create just one list of categories, and it can also be used to create a list of categories with sub-categories.

To create a custom category, follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Click Manage Resources in the upper right hand side of the screen
  • In the second column, click “Customize your keywords”

  • Create custom category

  • Click “Add a new keyword”

  • Add keyword

  • Fill in a Name for the category. A description and a rank for the category are optional.

  • Name category

  • Before clicking Save, on the left hand side of the screen, place a checkmark either beside the option that says “Assign to the top level of your hierarchy” if you want the category to be in the top level of your hierarchy, or beside the name of a category already created, to make the new category a sub-category of that one. For example, in the screenshot below, “Youth” and “Matrimony” are sub-categories of Counseling.

  • Assigning hierarchy

  • Click the Save button

The final step is to assign categories to your resources. There are two ways to do this. The first option is to search for a specific resource you want to assign categories to and edit it. Follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Search for the resource you would like to assign categories to
  • When you receive the list of search results, click “Details” on the resource you would like to edit
  • Click the Edit button in the upper right hand corner
  • Scroll down the page to the Categorization section
  • Click the link “Assign this resource to categories. For those who also use taxonomy, please note that this link will say “Assign this resource to taxonomy” but it will be used to assign both taxonomy and categories

  • Assign category to resources

  • A pop-up box will appear that will show the categorization hierarchy you have created.
  • Click the boxes beside the categories you would like to assign the resource to. This will place a check mark in the box

  • Assign category to resources 2

  • At the top of the pop-up box, click the “save selection for this resource” button

  • Save selection button

  • You can then close the pop-up box and the resource record will update to show the categories assigned

  • resource saved with categories

  • Click “Save” or “Save and view resource” at the top of the screen

The second method to assign categories to resources is to use the “Assign resources to categories” tool. Follow these steps:

  • Click Resources in the left hand menu
  • Click Manage resources in the upper right hand corner of the screen
  • Click “Assign resources to categories” in the second column

  • Assign resources to categories

  • Use the filters at the top of the screen to create a list of resources to assign categories to

  • Assign Categories

  • Once the list of resources has been generated, click the “Assign” link next to the name of the resource. This will bring up the hierarchy of categories you have created.

  • 12

  • Click the boxes beside the categories you would like to assign the resource to. This will place a check mark in the box
  • At the top of the screen, click the “save selection for this resource” button

  • 13

  • The resource you just added categories to will disappear from the list of resources as your categorizations have been successfully saved.
  • From here, you can click Assign beside the next resource and repeat the steps above

Once categories have been created, and resources have been assigned to these categories, one can then search by these categories. Searches can be conducted either by typing a category name in the search box and clicking the Search button, or by clicking on a category name in the category hierarchy that will appear on the resource search page. For example, the search depicted below was generated by clicking Cancer Type, and then Breast in the category hierarchy to generate a list of resources that provide services related to breast cancer.

If you have any questions about using categories in iCarol, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team.

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Scheduling multiple follow-ups to a client

We recently enhanced the “Follow-up Activity” section of call report forms to allow for scheduling several follow-ups at the time that the original form is being filled out. Previously you could add just one initial follow-up activity when first filling out a new call form. Scheduling additional follow-ups was possible, but it required that you first submit and then view or edit the report form before adding additional activities. These additional steps are now unnecessary.

Here’s how this capability works:

    1. If you’re only scheduling one follow-up for the client, do what you have always done, which is to fill out your reporting form, fill out the Follow-up Activity information on the ‘Finish’ tab of the form, and then Submit the form.

    first follow up

    Important Note: If you only want to add one follow-up activity, follow the steps above as written. You DO NOT need to click the “Add New Follow Up” button. If you do, then enter the follow-up details again, two follow-up activities will be created. The Add New Follow Up button is only to be used if you want to add more than one follow-up activity at a time.

    2. If you know at the time the initial report form is being created that this client should receive not one, but several follow-ups, you can schedule several follow-ups at this time, before submitting the form. After scheduling the first follow-up, click the Add New Follow Up button to save this follow-up and create an additional follow-up.

    Add 1st addtl follow up

    3. Once the first follow-up has been scheduled, you’ll see it listed under the Scheduled Follow-ups area. Then, your follow-up activity will be clear once again and you can now schedule an additional follow-up. Once the information is complete, click the Add New Follow Up button as you did before to add this second follow up.

    fill out 1st addtl follow up

    4. You can follow steps 2 and 3 as many times as needed to scheduled a series of follow-ups for this client, before clicking the Submit button once finished. If at any point you make a mistake when filling out follow-up details, the Clear Follow Up button can be used to clear all details entered.

You’ll still be able to add additional follow-up activities in both View or Edit mode of report forms just as you always could, but these new capabilities allow for a more efficient process if you’d like to schedule several follow-ups right from that first, newly created form.

There are many scenarios in which you may know during the first interaction that a help-seeker will want or need several follow-ups. One example is shown in our screenshots above, where a caller presenting with thoughts of suicide may need several follow-ups to stay in touch and help them maintain a safety plan. In fact, many authorities on suicide prevention best practices suggest that ongoing follow-ups from crisis contact centers are an important part of successfully seeing someone safely through a period of intense suicide ideation.

Other examples of multiple follow-up planning during the initial interaction could be planning out a series of surveys with a caller, or a series of follow-ups to follow their progression through an application process or other ongoing activity.

By being able to set out and schedule these follow-ups all at once when completing the initial form documentation, your staff and volunteers will save some additional steps and clicks, which saves time and more quickly gets them back and available for the next call, chat, or text.

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New SMS Options: Text Notifications and Send Text Messages to Other Users in your iCarol System

Our clients spoke and we listened! Many clients expressed a wish for iCarol to be able to leverage text messaging in new and different ways. Therefore, we added three new ways to use text messaging in iCarol. This article will outline how to send text notifications and text messages to other users in your iCarol system, and a future article will outline how to conduct follow-ups via text message. These new options carry no set-up fee, but you will be charged a monthly fee for the text messages sent, at a rate of $40/1000 messages/month.

The new SMS options will first need to be turned on by an Admin in your iCarol system. They can be found by clicking Admin Tools in the left hand menu, and then the “Messaging” tab. Doing so will take you to the page pictured below, where you will want to click the box next to the first two options to place a check mark there, then click the “Save all settings” button at the top of the screen.

1 Admin Tools

Those individuals who would like to be able to receive SMS messages from other users or would like to receive notifications via SMS will need to edit their user profiles to include a mobile phone number, and to give permission for SMS messages to be sent to them. To do so, the user, or an Admin on their behalf, will click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu, then click on the name of the person whose profile they would like to edit. Next, click the Contacts tab, the click the Edit button at the top of the screen. Next, enter a phone number into the Mobile Phone field, and click the box next to “I permit SMS’s to be sent to this mobile phone” to place a check mark there. Finally, click the Save button at the top of the screen.

2 Profile

Please note the text in red. SMS messages from iCarol may be sent at any time. It is suggested that if you would not like to receive SMS messages during certain time frames, you explore your mobile phone options to determine if there is a setting you can use to delay delivery of SMS messages to certain time frames. Most mobile phones have this option so that, for example, it can be set so that SMS messages are not delivered between the hours of 11pm and 9am. Any message that might have been sent during that time frame is not delivered until after 9am. Alternately, most mobile phones also allow users to set their phone to silent, so that the notification sound that usually plays when a phone call or text message is received is not heard. Once the option to send SMS notifications is turned on, additional options are displayed on the Notifications tab of user profiles as below.

3 Notifications

Each individual, or an Admin on their behalf, can edit these options to indicate which notifications they would like sent via SMS.

To send a SMS message to another user, follow the steps below.

1. Click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu
2. Click on the name of the person you would like to send a message to
3. Click the Contact Info tab of the user profile
4. Click the mobile phone number
5. A new tab or window will open where you can type your message and send it

4 Send SMS

Non-Admin users can only send SMS messages to one user at a time. Admin users can send a SMS message to multiple users at once. They would do so by following these steps:

1. Click Vols-Staff in the left hand menu
2. Click the boxes next to the names of the people you would like to send a SMS message to, so there are check marks placed there
3. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the Send SMS link

5 Select coworkers

4. The form to type your message and send it will appear

6 Send SMS

A new report has been added to the Statistics page of iCarol to help you track how many SMS messages are being sent from your system. Admins can access this report by clicking Statistics in the left hand menu, then the Messaging menu. This report contains several filters so you can determine from what area of iCarol the SMS messages are being sent. “Between Staff and Volunteers” is the option to choose if you would like to see how many notification messages and messages between users are being sent.

7 Statistics

If you have any questions or need any clarification on this functionality, please do not hesitate to send a case to iCarol Support!

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The Center for Family Safety and Healing empowers bystanders

Center for Family Safety and HealingThe Center for Family Safety and Healing (TCFSH) fully addresses all aspects of family violence, including child abuse and neglect, teen dating abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse. Their multidisciplinary team approach includes a one-stop, coordinated response to family violence for individuals and families through partnerships with law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution and a wide range of community resources along with an expanded forum for education, advocacy and ongoing research.

On January 8, 2015, “Where’s The Line?”, a first-of-its-kind family violence awareness campaign was unveiled, geared to empowering bystanders to act on behalf of family violence victims. More than 60 percent of Americans know someone who is the victim of family violence. TCFSH will be offering resources that are designed to educate the general public, answer questions, and triage requests to appropriate services.

iCarol is very pleased to assist TCFSH with this new campaign. Kiersten Curtis, information coordinator at The Center for Family Safety and Healing, had this to say just prior to the launch of the new campaign regarding her work with iCarol:

“Your team is magnificent…Per your earlier email, thank you for being available to help me and the quick solution you found. Tomorrow, we are launching our public education campaign and I thought that you’d like to read the media advisory since iCarol is such a fundamental component to the success of our campaign.”

Thank you very much for your kind words Kiersten! We are pleased to have you and your agency as part of the iCarol family!

We’d love to share news about your helpline’s successes, new programs and services. Please to us to share your story.

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Our Most Popular Statistical Reports explained

There are a plethora of reports available in the Statistics section of iCarol that can be used to illustrate many different facets of your service. Please see below for further information on some of the most commonly used reports.

One of the most basic reports is the call volume report. It shows how many call reports were submitted during the time frame specified.

iCarol Statistics Call Volume Chart

This report, and any report found in the “Chart Type” menu on the Analysis tab, can be filtered in a number of different ways. The filters available are:

Location – If you enter a specific location or list of locations, the resulting call volume chart will just show the calls from callers located in those locations. If you have a geography based funder who is interested in how many calls you received from a specific area, this filter can assist you in creating a report for the funder.

Time frame – You can enter a very specific time frame for your reports to cover, and you can also change the interval to such options as daily, monthly, hour of the day, day of the week, etc. You can also limit the report to specific days or the week or hours of the day. In this way, you could build a report that showed your call volume during business hours (9am-5pm Monday to Friday), and compare it to the call volume during non-business hours (5pm-9am Monday to Friday plus weekends).

Call Reports and Phone Workers – The Phone Workers drop-down menu will list all the users in your iCarol system. In this way, you could see how many calls each user is submitting. If you use several different call reports in iCarol, you can also user this filter to run call volume reports on just one of your call reports, or any combination of them you wish.

The final filter available is the Call Content Filter. This filter enables you the filter the call volume chart by any piece of data you collect in any of the custom fields on your call reports. You can add up to 5 call content filters. In the chart below, I have filtered to show calls on the topic of Gambling where the caller appreciated the service they received.

iCarol Statistics call content filters

Many clients have managers, board members or funders who are interested to see how many calls are being received in regards to a specific demographic or topic. A pie chart is a great way to illustrate this. When you first select the pie chart from the Chart Type menu on the Analysis tab of Statistics, the pieces of the pie will represent the categories on your call report. You will want to “drill down” into one of the categories to get to the more specific data by clicking on a piece of the pie. The pie chart will then show the groups in the category selected. You will want to “drill down” once more to get to the field level of your call report, where the most specific data is stored.

Here is an example. This pie chart shows the categories in the call report:

iCarol Demographics Pie Chart

I clicked on the “Caller Issues” piece of the pie. This chart shows all the groups in the “Caller Issues” category:

iCarol Statistics Demographics pie chart sub category

Finally, I clicked on the “Addiction” piece of the pie. The chart below shows the specific addiction issues the callers spoke about:

iCarol Statistics Demographics Pie Chart fields

Many iCarol clients track the needs of their callers via the AIRS taxonomy. With the “Needs by Taxonomy” report, these clients can see the most common needs of their callers. This information can be used to ensure call takers are trained appropriately, that appropriate resources to fill these needs are available in the resource database, and even to inform funders and policy makers about the needs of the community.

iCarol Statistics 211 Taxonomy AIRS Needs

The “Count of referrals to resources” chart shows which resources have been referred to the most often. This chart is another way to illustrate the needs of the community and could even be used to illustrate the need for expanded programs and increased funding.

iCarol Statistics Top Resources with most referrals

This is only a small number of the reports available in the Statistics section of iCarol. We encourage you to explore all the reports available and view the tutorial videos on Statistics to learn more. If you have any questions about Statistics in iCarol, please feel free to contact the Support Team at any time.

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iCarol’s new Automated Verification Response Screen

Recently, the responses screen in the automated verification tool has been updated and expanded to add more tools to make it even easier for you to manage your verifications. Please read on to learn more about the tools now available on this screen.

The screen is laid out in a table format, with several columns of information. You can reorder any of the columns (alphabetically or by date, depending on the data in the column) by clicking the up or down arrow beside the name of each column. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, there is a search box, so you can search for particular data by resource name, resource type, date, email address or a person’s name.

1

You will note there is a column titled “Assigned To”. When an individual sends a verification request, that request and the subsequent responses are assigned to that person. In this way, you can divide the responsibility for automated verification requests and responses between several people. Using the check boxes next to the Resource Name and the “Reassign” button at the bottom of the screen, you can reassign the responses to another worker if you wish. Please also note there is a Delete button at the bottom of the screen. You can use the check boxes next to the Resource Name and this button to Delete particular responses if you wish.

2

Also at the bottom of the screen, there are some settings you can use to filter the data in the table. To access these settings, click the link “Show settings”. “Show Verification Responses for” allows you to filter the list to show only those verification responses assigned to you, or those assigned to everyone. “Show Verification Responses in” is used to filter the responses according to what status they are in. The definitions of the statuses are:

Pending A verification request has been sent, but the verifier has not responded yet.

Responded The verifier has submitted (responded to) the verification request sent to them, but the response has not yet been approved by someone at your agency.

Completed The verification response has been approved by someone at your agency.

“Include the following fields in the Results” will only appear if you are using custom resource fields. These custom fields will appear in a list so that you can filter the responses list to only include those resource records with the chosen custom field.

3

Finally, in the top left corner, you can determine how many entries you would like to see per page. The default is 10, but you can change this to 25, 50 or 100. If there are multiple pages of results, you can move through each page by clicking “previous”, “next” or a page number in the lower right hand corner.

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What is “Restriction and Certification” in iCarol?

Restriction and Certification can be used to restrict access to confidential information stored in iCarol based on where the user logs in. If Restriction is enabled, confidential information stored in call repots and caller profiles can only be accessed from computers or networks that have been certified.

*Very Important Note* Restriction and Certification can only be used on PCs. Unfortunately, this functionality cannot be used on Apple products.

To use Restriction and Certification, the first step is to access the Tools tab of Admin Tools and place a check mark in the box next to “Use Restriction”, in the Restriction and Certification section, then click “Save all settings” at the top of the screen.

Admin Tools Setting

By default, Admins and Supervisors are not affected by Restriction, meaning, no matter where they log in, they can access the confidential information in iCarol. If you would like to restrict Admins and Supervisors as well, you can place check marks next to the appropriate settings on this page.

Next, you will need to download the iCarol Certification tool, and certify the computers from which users can access confidential information. To do so, click “click here” at the bottom of the Restriction and Certification section, and follow the steps noted. Once the tool is downloaded and installed on the computer you wish to certify, open the certification tool and enter your login and password, plus a name for the computer you are certifying. Please note, if you certify one computer on a network, all computers on that network will be treated as certified and can be used to access confidential information.

Certification tool

There are two settings in Advanced Security settings related to restriction and certification. These settings are found in the left hand column of the Call Reports section.

Advanced Security Settings

The first setting is “Can certify computers”. By default, Admins and Supervisors can certify computers using the certification tool. If you would like individuals at other security levels to be able to do this, you can check this setting.

The second setting is “Exempt from Restriction (can always see call reports)”. This setting is used if you are using Restriction in your agency, but want a particular person to be able to access confidential information wherever they log in.

If you have any questions about how to use Restriction and Certification, please do not hesitate to contact the iCarol Support team.

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Deleting vs. Disabling a User Profile in iCarol

We recommend that when staff or volunteers leave your agency or discontinue service with you, that you disable their user profile rather than delete it. We recommend that you only delete a user profile if it was created by mistake, or the user has not done any “work” in iCarol (signed up for shifts, submitted call reports, created or edited resource records, etc.). This is because when you delete a user, all interaction he or she had in iCarol will no longer be attributed to them. For example, you will no longer be able to see which shifts they served, which chatboard posts they created, which call reports they submitted or which resource records they created or edited. Instead of listing a name in call reports and resource records, “unknown or deleted” will be shown. If the user is disabled, their name will remain on the interactions, but they won’t be able to sign into iCarol.

To delete a user, follow these steps:

Click on Vols-Staff in the left hand menu, and then click on the name of the person you would like to delete. Once you are in the user profile, click the edit button at the top of the screen.

Edit Profile

The buttons at the top of the screen will change. Click the Delete button.

Delete a vol

Warning text in red will be displayed, explaining the effects of deleting the user profile. If you delete the profile, the effect is irreversible and we cannot recover this information for you. If you are sure you want to delete the profile, click Confirm deletion.

Delete warning message

To disable a user, follow these steps:

Click on Vols-Staff in the left hand menu, and then click on the name of the person you would like to disable. Click the Admin tab in the user’s profile, and then click the edit button at the top of the screen.

Vol profile Admin tab

Click the drop-down menu next to iCarol Account and choose Disabled, then click the Save button at the top of the screen.

Save Changes

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to submit a case to the iCarol Support Team!

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Managing Shift Schedules During Vacation Periods

During the summer, and other common vacation periods, staff and volunteers may need to adjust the time they serve at your agency. You want to ensure that your calendar is up-to-date with all changes and the following iCarol features are there to assist.

Unregister from a shift

If a volunteer or staff member has already signed up for or been assigned to a shift, but realizes that they cannot serve the shift, they can un-register from the shift. To do so, the volunteer or staff member will use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the day of their shift, and will click on their name in the list of shifts. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is an “Unregister” button which they should click.

Unregister

Clicking this button will remove the person’s name from the shift, and it will revert to an “Open” shift so someone else can sign up for it.

Shift Substitution

This feature is similar to the “Unregister a shift” feature, but goes an extra step and facilitates the coverage for shift assignment changes. If a volunteer or staff member has already signed up for or been assigned to a shift, but realizes that they cannot serve the shift, they can ask for a substitution. To do so, the volunteer or staff member will use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the day of their shift, and will click on their name in the list of shifts. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is an “Ask for Substitution” button which they should click.

Unregister

Clicking this button will send an email to all users indicating that the volunteer or staff person is looking for a substitute, and will highlight the shift in yellow so it is easily spotted. If someone would like to substitute, they would navigate to this shift in the Shifts area of iCarol, and click the Accept button.

Shift substitution

Whether or not you allow un-registration or shift substitutions, and how soon before the start of a shift a person can unregister or ask for a substitution, are settings Admin’s can control via the Shifts tab in Admin Tools.

Exceptions to Repeating Assignments

If you have members that are assigned to the same shift over a period of time, the repeating assignment is a great tool to use. This tool allows you to collectively schedule those repeating assignments and it also handles exceptions, such as to remove the person from the shift during a particular time span when they will be on vacation. To do so, use the shifts area of iCarol to navigate to the first shift within a repeating shift assignment that they would like to unregister for and click on their name. A pink box will appear to the right, and in that box, there is a link labelled “Repeating assignment” which they should click.

Exceptions to repeat assignments

This will cause the following box to pop-up:

Repeating Assignment Tool

Firstly, the volunteer or staff person should click the radio button next to “Remove”. Next, using the drop-down boxes, they should indicate what time frame (every, every other, each month’s first, etc.) and what day of the week they would like to be removed from. The date next to “between” will be defaulted to the date of the shift the volunteer or staff person is adjusting. The volunteer or staff person should adjust the date next to “and”, or check the box next to “no end date” to remove themselves from every shift into the future. Finally, they should click the “Make these changes” button.

If you have any questions about these tools, please do not hesitate to submit a case to the support team via the online case management tool, found in the Help menu in iCarol.

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How Agency, Program, and Site structure displays

In iCarol, we offer a resource structure, or hierarchy, called Agency, Program, Site. If you’d like to learn more about this structure, you can download our guide about this information. The Agency – Program – Site hierarchy in iCarol follows the structure recommended by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) and is most often used by those agencies using the AIRS taxonomy. Using this structure, at the 3rd or 4th level, (the 4th level being programatsite), has an effect on which information is displayed when viewing agency and program records within iCarol.

An agency is a legally recognized organization that delivers services. (edit screen identified by a grey ribbon) The agency is the main location of the resource where the administrative functions occur, where the organization’s director is generally housed and where it is licensed for business. An agency may or may not deliver direct services from this location.

Sites are the physical locations (eg. branches) from which clients access services provided by an agency. (edit screen identified by blue ribbon) If only one locations exists, all information may be stored in the agency record. If multiple sites exist, then ALL information recommended for Site must be stored there, since those fields will be displayed instead of the agency version.

The display hierarchy is: Program-at-Site (if using) Site / Program (if using)/ Agency (if a piece of information exists at all three levels, Site info will display

A service/program record describes the types of assistance/service an agency delivers to its clients. (edit screen identified by green ribbon) If only one program exists for an agency, all information may be stored in the agency record for that resource.

Program-at-Site contains specific details about a program that are available at a site. (edit screen identified by beige ribbon)

It is helpful to understand what information from which type of record (agency, program, site or programatsite) will display so you can made educated decisions on what information to place in each record so that referrals given to your callers as an accurate as possible.

Our Support Team can provide you with an Excel document that shows what information will be displayed when viewing agency and program records. There are two tabs in the Excel document, one for those using the three level hierarchy (agency, program, site), and one for those using the 4 level hierarchy (agency, program, site, programatsite). If you’d like us to send you this document, please open a Case with support using the Case Management tool found in the Help section of your iCarol system.

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