Monday, June 26, 2017

NO ‘DARKNESS INTO LIGHT’ WITHOUT GOOD SYSTEMS


Read more in Issue 56 - Winter 2016/’17 of ‘Changing Ireland’!


NO ‘DARKNESS INTO LIGHT’ WITHOUT GOOD SYSTEMS, 
By Eamon Stack


   When an NGO grows, it needs to have systems in place to rates at appointments.

handle growth. Witness Pieta House’s ‘Darkness into Light’ walks which now see up to 120,000 people taking part annually.
   Pieta House has grown significantly since it was set up in 2006. It is a non-profit organisation providing a specialised treatment programme for people who have suicidal ideation or who participate in self- harming.
   Enclude has been involved with Pieta House since 2009 and has helped it to cope successfully with the growth.

As demand for services grew, Enclude developed a client relationship management (CRM) system so the NGO could easily produce up-to-date information on the use of their services and keep a record of client bookings.
   In addition, Enclude set up a system whereby Pieta House and vulnerable clients could contact each other via text message. This also meant Pieta House could text reminders directly to clients and this

   The CRM also enables the various branches of Pieta to share availability of therapists for emergency assessments. As a result, clinical support staff in any centre can see all available therapists in a shared calendar and book an appointment directly from the calendar. This means that, for example, if a distressed client attends at one centre where there might be no therapists available, staff can look at nearby centres and book an urgent appointment.

MINING DATA FOR POLICY 
& CAMPAIGNS
In 2012, Pieta House recruited a new in-house researcher to interrogate the data from its centres and to identify the key issues emerging. Enclude worked with Pieta House over a three-month period to upgrade its systems so that they could produce that quality data. Many of the national news stories over recent years on suicide, suicide ideation and self-harm have been sourced from this unique database.
   Pieta House founder, Senator Joan Freeman, explains how the data mined from its systems helped shape one of its campaigns.

WOMEN CALL FOR MEN
“We saw from data that 48% of clients coming to our centres across country were men. At first, we thought ‘Wow, so we are one of the few organisations in the country that men come to’. But our IT system let us see deeper than that, and on closer analysis we realized most of the appointments were made by women. This key insight prompted us to launch our ‘Mind your Men’ mental health campaign.” 


SOFTWARE FOR SOCIAL
INCLUSION
   The not-for-profit tech company ‘Enclude’ has carved a niche for itself finding solutions for groups working in the Community and Voluntary Sector.
   The organisation is now ten years old and wrote to us following our Autumn edition. To back up their points, we also took testimony from two groups they worked with
in recent years:


EAMON STACK WRITES*
   We in ‘Enclude’ were struck by the cartoon in the last edition of ‘Changing Ireland’ which showed a community worker toiling endlessly in front of a computer screen to address the reporting needs of funders. It doesn’t have to be so!
   ‘Enclude’ is currently working with partnership companies in Dublin to design an information management system that will remove some of the drudgery they are experiencing at present. The system will:

  • Manage their interactions with people they serve through the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP);
  • Assist with reporting to IRIS (a system used by community workers nationwide involved in SICAP);
  • Track interventions made that are not currently recognised by SICAP categories.

   In the past we’ve done similar work in the addiction services area, working with the HSE and projects to develop custom-made client care and staff management system.
A recent evaluation conducted with the addiction services shows that the system is helping them to generate savings in staff and management time – by cutting out duplication and reducing time spent on administration – worth almost ¤50,000 per year on average (or 285 working days per year). Addiction services reported that they also saved 89 working days of managers’ and administrators’ working time each year. There was also an annual saving of ¤18,000 on software licences.
   The new system also helped to improve the quality of data available to manage interactions with clients as well as the data available to meet funders’ reporting requirements.
   Lisa Gavillet, Development Worker with the North Eastern Regional Drugs Task Force told us that: “Our eCASS system has given us a way to record and report on actual contact time, outcomes and progression of clients from a service perspective. This then feeds into a larger statistical gathering exercise providing timely and relevant information to funders and policy makers.”

* Eamon Stack is CEO of ‘Enclude’.
More info: www.enclude.ie 

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