Province-Wide Collaboration Amongst 12 Independent Help Lines
The Crisis Lines Association of British Columbia (CLABC) is a membership association of non-profit help lines focused on compassionate listening, emotional support and suicide prevention in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada. Together they take nearly 200,000 calls per year. Each member agency operates independently and takes calls for its geographic area. In addition, CLABC offers several province-wide phone numbers like 1-800-SUICIDE and 310-6789 which route calls to an available counselor at any member agency in the province.
The opportunity: Better collaboration and enhanced funding
CLABC leadership realized they had an opportunity to greatly enhance the way they worked together in several tantalizing ways:
- A shared, secure referral database so that, no matter where in the province a caller needed help, the counselor answering the call at any member agency could quickly find an effective provider in the caller’s area
- Aggregate data and reporting, so that leadership could report to funders about their efforts as a whole
- Ability for members to run the software system of their choice, so that all members could participate in these initiatives
The solution: A customized network of iCarol systems meeting all three requirements
CLABC worked with the iCarol team to build a system meeting all three requirements.
The shared referral database is in a special iCarol system that contains service provider information for third-party agencies all over the province meeting a variety of human and social services needs. Resources are managed using iCarol’s advanced referral database, are intelligently categorized by one or more service types, and can be found based on the postal code or city in which they reside, or that they serve.
Since it is web-based, each CLABC member can sign on to the system to create and update records for their community. Those agencies that use iCarol in their help lines can easily gain access to the information right from within their iCarol system. And those that don’t, can still sign on to the iCarol system to gain secure access to the database. Either way, extensive security measures ensure that only authorized people are gaining access to the information.
Next, we built an iCarol system to aggregate call data from all members and allow for powerful and complete reporting. For those members using iCarol, their non-caller identifiable data is automatically shared with the CLABC iCarol system, with no further effort needed on their part. Members that aren’t using iCarol can securely upload their data on a regular basis, using one of several formats that we created that will work with their current software or with their paper-based system.
Since iCarol merges the data logged by counselors about the call with data obtained from their telephony provider, CLABC leadership has a highly accurate reporting capability. They are now able to:
- Provide aggregate statistics about how their network of members serves the province as a whole
- Understand the caller issues and demographics, and how those things change over time
- Prove that they are serving segments of the population that are important to current and potential funders
- Monitor and improve their operations based on indicators like member availability, abandonment rate, length of crisis calls, interventions made, etc.
Through the course of these projects, many of the CLABC members chose to migrate from their previous software systems to iCarol. Although not a requirement for participating, they saw how it’s capabilities were an excellent match for their non-profit help line. Today, nearly all of the CLABC members use iCarol.