The team had a blast in Dallas for this year’s I&R Training and Education Conference organized by the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS).
The weather was a big topic of conversation at the conference, as torrential rains, storms, and severe flooding wreaked havoc on the region in the days prior to the conference. In fact our developer, Spike, who attended the conference shared this image of the flight path towards the end of their flight into Dallas on Tuesday night. Just as their flight was cleared to land, the airport closed due to the storms and their flight was diverted to Tulsa where many others were also sent. It took several hours before they could get from Tulsa to Dallas. Getting there was an adventure for many conference goers due to the storms, but was ultimately well worth it.
And since disaster response is a component of the work of many 2-1-1 and I&R agencies, many attendees whose centers are located in the region had to split their time between attending their sessions and regularly checking in with staff at their call center. It was a great reminder of the never-ending and important work happening in the industry.
The conference was very centrally located in downtown, within a mile of interesting museums like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza which examines the life, death, and legacy of JFK.
Crystal noted that the local art scattered throughout the area was impressive, “I loved the art all around the city, the hotel had an interesting mural painted all along one side. Outside a little pizza shop, walking distance from the hotel, there was a really interesting bronze statue of horses, and everywhere you looked there was art beautifying the area. Art was everywhere!”
There was plenty of opportunity for fun while in Dallas. Several iCarol team members and helpline staffers took in a Texas Rangers game one evening which was a lot of fun.
We also found a delicious Mexican restaurant located about a block from the conference. YUM. Here we are again with a variety of folks from both our team and the industry chowing down.
The fun and games were great, but we accomplished a lot professionally as well. The iCarol Usergroup session was well-attended. For those who haven’t attended one of these sessions before, we use this as an opportunity to speak with iCarol users and provide a synopsis of the major enhancements that have been deployed over the last year.
Crystal’s session, “Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider” was popular among resource managers and the audience was really engaged! Be sure to keep an eye on the AIRS networker for the presentation if you’d like to check it out. Whether you use iCarol or another software vendor, please check into your Taxonomy capabilities and options for more information on how you can apply what you learned.
For more great photos from the conference, check out the album shared by AIRS. Our team would like to thank everyone who stopped by to say hi, attended a session, or engaged with us in any way while at the conference. We had a terrific time!
Crystal and Neil are dusting off their spurs and cowboy hats – they’ll be in Dallas for the Annual I&R Training and Education Conference, held by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), May 27 – 30th.
There are some special events we’d like to note, first that Crystal, who is a specialist in Taxonomy and I&R, will present a workshop titled
Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider.
Here’s the description of the session, which falls in the Resource Database Track:
So you understand the basic concepts of indexing records using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy, but what comes next? Join us in discussing how to make Taxonomy customization decisions for your organization, and more importantly your resource database. Analyze a database and choose levels to index records. Learn the difference between horizontal and vertical indexing, and how to avoid these common indexing misadventures. Explore the different schools of thought on target terms, and work towards developing your own targeting policies. This session is intended for Resource Database staff with a basic understanding of indexing using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy.
We should note that Crystal’s session is not iCarol-focused, it is educational and will be helpful to Resource Database staff regardless of the software solution used by their helpline. You can join her session on Saturday, May 30th from 10:45am to 12:15pm in the Dallas Ballroom B, 1st Floor, Conference Center.
There will also be an iCarol User Group session on Wednesday May 27th from 2:00-3:45 in Majestic 5, 37th Floor, Center Tower. The User Group session is aimed at leaders and staff at organizations who use iCarol so they can learn about our latest updates and ask questions. If your helpline would like to learn more about iCarol, whether you’re a current subscriber or not, you’re certainly welcome to attend.
Of course while in Dallas we’ll also be welcoming visitors to our booth (201) in the exhibitor’s hall. We’re looking forward to talking with everyone there in hopes of telling others about the iCarol solution, and welcoming more I&R centers into the iCarol family. If you plan to be at the conference and would like to chat with us, please !
You may have noticed some new tabs and tools recently added to your Repeat Caller Profiles. Here’s a look at what they can do.
The Referrals tab shows the most recent referrals from your resource database that were attached to Call Report forms filled out for this caller. They’re listed with the most recent referrals at the top, and older referrals further down the list. Clicking on the Date will take you directly to the finished Call Report where this referral was attached. Clicking on the name of the referral will take you directly to that resource record.
This is a quick way to see what referrals have recently been suggested to your caller, so you can ask them if those referrals have been helpful, or prompt discussions about progress in their situation or treatment plans.
The Follow-ups tab shows approximately 50 of the most recent Follow-up Activities scheduled on Call Reports filled out for the caller. The view here shows the Date on which the Follow-up is due, Status, and Subject line for a quick summary. Like the Referrals tab, each Date is a clickable link that will take you directly to the Call Report form where this Follow-up Activity was assigned.
This can be useful in a number of ways, because even repeat callers can benefit from follow-up calls. Some experts have suggested that receiving a call directly from the helpline during times of high stress or crisis can help repetitive users of the service better respect boundaries or comply with call limits. This list provides a quick way to see how many activities are set up for this caller, the frequency at which they’re being scheduled, and whether they’ve been completed or not.
Public Resource Directory Activity
Each caller profile has a field where an Email can be entered.
We can also enable the capability for visitors to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) to create accounts and save lists. (Contact our Support Team if you’d like to have this enabled for your PRD)
If this client were to create an account on your Public Resource Directory using the same email indicated in their profile, information about when their PRD account was created, when they last logged in to your PRD, and their saved Resource records is shared on the Website tab of the profile.
If you’d like to track this information for any PRD user, our Support Team can set up a process where each new PRD account created will automatically create a Caller Profile in your system. Just ask us to enable this capability for you.
We hope you’ll enjoy using these new features of the Caller Profile. If you encounter any questions, please reach out to the Support Team for help.
Note: This blog describes a process that helps you or your web developers create guided searches of your iCarol Public Resource Directory. While this is still relevant to users of that version of the Public Resource Directory, as of July 3, 2017 a new version of the Public Resource Directory includes a built-in Guided Search builder. Learn more…
Passing parameters from your website to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) is a great and easy way to help guide your users to helpful resources. This feature is included in the Public Resource Directory add-on at no additional cost.
Guided searches can save time, help your users find what they need, and if you use the 211 Taxonomy, can help improve your statistics by encouraging exact Taxonomy searches. Webmasters can pre-load the Public Resource Directory public search page by sending search parameters in the URL hyperlink.
A current example of a client who does this is http://montana211.org/. They put a custom search box on their main page, which was developed by their webmaster. When a search is conducted by a PRD user, they generate a URL for the resulting page. Not only can search terms be passed to the Public Resource Directory (PRD), but other search filters such as location can be passed to the initial search.
Another client who uses pre-populated searches is http://www.211oc.org/211oc-guided-database-search.html. The guided search enables the public users to choose a general category, and then presents them with a list of more specific categories. Once a more specific category is chosen, the public resource directory is pre-populated and the user is presented with a list of appropriate search results.
Basic PRD URL vs. Populated URL
Example of Basic PRD URL:
This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, with empty search criteria. A user will then have to enter a search term, choose geographic filters to refine their search, and initiate the search by clicking search (or choosing from the drop down list).
Example of a populated PRD search URL:
This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, but will include populated specific search criteria. iCarol will also complete the query before the page loads for the user, removing the extra step of clicking “search”. The user can change any of the filters or search terms to further refine sequential searches.
How to read the Populated URL
The parameters are passed within a defined section of the URL, and by programming the hyperlinks from your website to the pre-populated URL, you can pass these criteria to the PRD. Search parameter starts with the field name, includes an equals sign (=), then includes the parameter value to pass. Each parameter is separated by an ampersand (&).
You can get the populated URL by completing a search in your PRD system, and copying the URL from the address bar. For a more dynamic approach, your webmaster can use text boxes or drop down boxes to help guide a user’s input.
Understanding Available Parameters
Org – Org is your Organization number, the unique number used by iCarol to represent your system
Country – Geographic Filtering for Country
StateProvince – Geographic Filtering for State or Province
County – Geographic Filtering for County
City – Geographic Filtering for City
PostalCode – Geographic Filtering for Zip/Postal Code
pst – [Coverage | Physical | All ] – Filter resources based on coverage area (“Resources serving”), physical location (“Resources within”), or omit this parameter to use your systems default.
Search – [Food] – Is the actual search term you want to find using the filters above. This can include the name of a specific resource, a general concept or phrase, or be specific such as a customized category or taxonomy term.
Sort – [Alphabetical | Proximity] – Is the sort order that the results will display in.
NameOnly – [True | False] – Set your search type to “Search Names” or “Search All Fields”, or omit this parameter to use your system default.
If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the Online Case Submission Tool, found in your Help menu.
The Automatic Resource Verification tool is a powerful tool used to update and maintain your Resource database. You can create any number of custom Verification Requests, to update large groups of Resources (up to 1,000 records at a time), or only specific records that need to be reviewed. Your Resource Contacts, or Verifiers, receive an email, with a link requesting them to review their information and submit any changes. They are able to work on the update over multiple sessions, and can submit their changes to you for approval when ready.
How to Create an Automatic Verification Request:
1. Log on to iCarol, using an account with Resource Editor privileges.
2. Click on Resources from the left menu, then to the right of the Geographic Filters choose “Verify” which will change the page to allow you to create a request.
3. Choose the automated verification request method (see explanation below) that best meets your needs.
4. Create search query/find the records you wish to include in the automated verification request. Here are some examples:
- Find all Resources with a specific Taxonomy term. eg. “Suicide Issues”, “General Counselling”, “Homeless meals”, “Homeless people”, etc.
- Find all Resources with a specific Keyword/Category term eg. “Meals”, “Income Tax”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word in their Resource Name. eg. “Meal”, “Counselling”, “Mental Health”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word or phrase in any field on the Resource Record. eg. “Low income”, “form filling”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a Custom Field Value chosen. eg. “Update Quarter”, “Update Month”, etc.
5. Apply any additional filters to the request, such as including only Agency or Program Records, Geographic Restrictions, or Resources that have not been updated within a specific time frame. Once you have applied all the filters you wish to the search, click the Search button. You will be presented with a list of resources that meet your search criteria. Here is what the list will look like:
6. Deselect any resources you do not want to send in the request by unchecking them. Please note, as soon as one Resource record is deselected, Setup Method 2 will apply to the automated verification request (see below).
7. Click “Start a verification request with these search results” to configure the automated verification settings.
Note: Only one query can be used per automated verification request. If you want to send a request to all Resources with “Meal”, or “Food” in their name, you will have to create two separate requests, unless you can find a search query that will include records in both searches. This is an example of where Custom Fields may be an option.
Setup Methods for the Automated Verification Request:
Method 1: Preform a search, and create the automated verification request from ALL listed/found resources. As soon as you deselect any displayed Resource, you are now using Method 2. Important to note, the query you use to create a Method 1 automated verification request will be saved, and repeated at the time the request is actually sent. If any changes happen to your Resources between the initial creation of the automated verification request, and when it is sent, all records that are found in the same query will be sent.
Use example: On Monday, you decide to send an automated verification request to all resources that have a “Suicide Issue” term applied. However, you end up busy and unable to send the automated verification request that day, and decide to delay sending it, until Friday. In the meantime, you or other team members have added a new service, and updated the taxonomy/category of other services, with the “Suicide Issue” term. When the automated verification request is sent on Friday, all records that match the initial query will be included, including those that were not included when the automated verification request was first created on Monday.
Method 2: Perform a search, and deselect/select only the specific resources that you want to contact.
Use example: You receive a complaint that an agency “Fruit Rescue Coop” is no longer running. You want to send an automated verification request to just this agency to inquire about the status of their programs.
Explaining the Automated Verification Request Email Settings:
Setting 1 tells the automated verification request what email address to send the request “From”. You can choose to use the iCarol default (which a verifier cannot reply too), or to setup your own “From” email address by contacting iCarol Support. Please note that verifiers are only able to reply to a verification request to you directly, if you setup your own “From” email address.
Setting 2 tells the automated verification request what template you want to use when sending the request. You can setup multiple templates with custom phrasing for your verification requests by using the “Create and edit email templates” link at the top of the automated verification request page.
Setting 3 tells the automated verification request in what order to look for email addresses. The default is “Main Contact” first, “Senior Worker” second, “Last Verified By” third, and “General Email” fourth – however, you can customize this to any order that you prefer. When the automated verification request is sent, it will look into each of these fields, in the order you specify, to determine where to send the request.
Setting 4 tells the automated verification request what records to include in the request. This setting modifies the initial request creation method.
- “To all the Agency’s child records” no matter which setup method you choose for the automated verification request, ALL the agency’s records will be included in the request, even if they do not match the initial query in method 1.
- “To child records only that match the search criteria above” will expand the initial search, to include the resources that match the query in the first method of setting up the automated verification request.
Setting 5 tells the automated verification request what emails to look at to send the request, and if one does not exist, which email to use instead.
- “Ignore the parent Agency, just use whatever email is found in each Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore the Agency (Parent) record, and to use what is found in the Program or Site record (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3. If no email is found, the record will not be sent.
- “If no email address is found in a Program or Site, then try to find one in it’s parent Agency” This is a good option for when Programs may or may not have their own contacts. The automated verification request will look for an email address in the Program or Site records (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3.
- “Only use email addresses from the parent Agency, not from the Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore any emails found in the Program or Site records (Child records) and to send all records to the Agency (Parent) record, in the order specified in Setting 3.
Setting 6 tells the automated verification request how to include ProgramAtSite records, if they exist in the request (a combination of Setup Method, and Setting 4). If they exist, they are sent either “merged” or “separately”.
- “Merged” – “Program Contacts” tells the automated verification request to merge ProgramAtSites with the attached Program. Verifiers can confirm/remove which sites are linked to the Program, and can provide general notes about the changes. Setting 5 and Setting 3 then determine which email to send the merged record too.
- “Separately” – “ProgramAtSite Contact if one exists, otherwise program contact” tells the automated verification request to include the ProgramAtSite records separately. The automated verification request then looks at Setting 5 and Setting 3 to determine which email to send the separate record too. Note: The ProgramAtSite record exists independent from the Program, and may, depending on Setting 5, and if an email exists in the ProgramAtSite record, be sent alone, with an Agency Record and/or with a Program record.
If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case submission tool.
We’ve got a new optional tool for searching for resources using custom categories. This tool lets you conduct category searches on up to three categories (sometimes also referred to as “keywords”) simultaneously.
Those using the taxonomy are familiar with this already; what’s new is the ability for everyone with custom categories to use this.
So how can this be helpful to your searches?
You could use this new tool to search for resources tagged with both “rent help” and “utility help” (if you had those categories set up, for example). That could be helpful if your caller had transportation issues, and needed a single place to go for both. The search results would only include resources tagged with both of those custom categories.
As another example, you could also use the tool to search for “rent help” OR “utility help.” That could be helpful if the caller had general financial issues, and you wanted to find any resource that might be able to help. In that case, the search results would return resources tagged with at least one of the categories you indicated. You’d get more search results with this method than you would for the first example.
If you’d like this tool enabled in your system, there’s no added charge. Please submit a support case, and our team will take care of that for you.
We understand how important the follow-up process is at your helpline. There are many different reasons to follow-up with a help seeker after your initial conversation has ended. Safety planning and ongoing contact with support systems are extremely important for people who are having thoughts of suicide. Or perhaps you’d like to see if the referrals a caller was given were able to help them. Many centers also use a follow-up call as an opportunity to conduct a satisfaction or quality assurance survey.
Whatever reason you are following up with a client, our follow-up activity within a call report form makes it easy to schedule these follow-ups. You can collect the important information you’ll need to conduct the follow-up call, not just the person’s name and phone number but important information to preserve confidentiality, like knowing whether or not it’s okay to leave a voicemail, or to say where you’re calling from if a third party answers the phone. Your volunteers can even sign up for an email notification to tell them a follow-up call has been scheduled and assigned to them. There’s also a handy “inbox” on the main calls page where they can quickly navigate to the list of follow-ups that are scheduled.
With our next release we’ll be launching improvements to the pages that list Follow-ups and Surveys due. Those pages, as always, are accessed from the Calls menu. Here are highlights of the changes, which you’ll see soon:
- New arrows on the top bar let you change the sort order of each column: call report form number, due date, client name, phone worker, assigned to, and subject.
- To make the date column sortable, that’s now in YYYY/MM/DD format.
- A new search box lets you more quickly find the call reports you need by typing in a search term.
- You can still reassign followups, but it looks a little different — the pulldown is gone. Instead, please just click on the “assigned to” name, and then you’ll see the list of names from which you can choose.
We hope this enhancement helps save time in your daily work; making it so you can quickly and efficiently find the information you need when conducting follow-up interactions.
March is Social Work Month and a great opportunity to appreciate and thank Social Workers everywhere for their tireless dedication to improving the lives of people worldwide. This is a particularly special year for Social Work as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Many of you working in the helpline industry have a social work background or are certified or licensed social workers, and certainly the work that any helpline does classifies as falling into the category of social work. In honor of Social Work Month, the Oxford University Press has temporarily made available, for free, articles, videos, and more that may be of interest to you.
For more great information on Social Work Month and social work in general, visit NASW’s Social Work Month webpage.
With February nearly over, are you finding you and your team are still working on items from your January to-do list? So much to do, so little time.
Perhaps it’s time to consider shifting to new timesaving workflows. One of the best ones: Automated Resource Verification (ARV). It’s particularly helpful if you have more than a couple hundred resources, and/or your certifications require regular updates.
This handy tool – a well-integrated add-on to your iCarol system – makes short work of keeping your resource information up to date. Say goodbye to the headaches and time-eaters of the old way of verifying resource information: Endless games of telephone tag, bloated email inboxes, and hours cross-checking resource records to see if they include the latest information.
Check out the time-saving workflow you’d use with this tool:
- In just a few clicks, create a list of resources that need to be verified, right from your iCarol resource search page. Verification-specific filters, such as “date last verified” can be combined with standard resource search filters to find just the resources you need.
- Use radio buttons and pull-downs to select options, such as the email address the request will originate from, how to handle parent/child records, which email address to try first in the record, etc. The “visibility settings” area of iCarol lets you designate exactly which resource fields verifiers will and will not see.
- With one click, have iCarol send verification requests for all resource records in your list. Each email will automatically include your custom message, plus iCarol will drop in a custom link that leads the recipient to information about just their resources.
- Recipients click that link to view online the resource information you have in your database. They suggest changes to individual fields.
- In your iCarol system – not in your email inbox, hooray! – you’ll get a prompt when responses have arrived, and you can review them. The fields with suggested changes are highlighted, making it fast and easy to focus on the changes. Feel free to make edits to the suggested information as needed, then click “Save.”
- Your resource has now been updated and the changes are live in your database.
Clients who use ARV tell us the manpower savings, improved response rate, and greater precision over the process more than makes up for the add-on subscription cost.
If you’d like to find out more about this tool, add it to your subscription, or would like a free trial, please open a support case if you’re a current iCarol client, or if you’re not yet using iCarol. And if you’ve looked at Automated Resource Verification in the past, I invite you to take another look – we’ve added lots of enhancements in the past year.
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.
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.
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.
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.