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Adage Source LogoWhat Keeps Me Awake at Night: Tracking Information and Referral!!

October 5th, 2011  Written by Stephanie Brady, Director of Programs

The Independent Living Center, Inc - Joplin Mo.


We all know the 4 Core Services for Centers for Independent Living: Advocacy, Peer Counseling, Information and Referral, and IL Skills Training. But the one that often gets left by the wayside and is extremely difficult to fully track is Information and Referral. With the importance of service delivery for funding, we need to track every service we provide to consumers and the community, even ones that we cannot track the long-term impacts.

I know my staff members provide information and referral a hundred times a day to people who call or stop by, asking for general information. Mr. Smith calls and asks where to find affordable, accessible housing and we tell him. Ms. Andrews stops in and picks up a resource directory from which she finds six area food pantries. We post referral information on Facebook about applying for FEMA assistance. But are we tracking that information? Do we enter every referral contact we have made? Do we have the time? What I always tell my staff is if you don’t track it, it didn’t happen.

So, what constitutes Information and Referral? Any referral or information that you provide to someone that could increase their independence or improve their current situation. So really, any resource or referral you provide to someone is an information and referral service. I encourage staff to do the following:

1) Track It When It Happens—If you are on the phone providing information and referral to someone, open up Independence Online and enter that contact while you are still doing it or shortly after. It only takes seconds to enter and then that information will be counted when reporting is done.

2) Keep a Notebook for Multiple I&R or Anonymous I&R—If you provide a lot of I&R throughout the day (especially anonymous I&R), keep a notepad to jot all of those down. At a specified time during the day (usually only about 10 minutes), enter those I&Rs. If you did 10 I&Rs that are all for the same resource, that takes seconds to enter in Community Contacts.

3) Celebrate I&R Services—Celebrate providing I&R at staff meetings and it will become ingrained in staff to enter the service.

Information and Referral can open up so many additional services for people while also bringing new consumers to your agency. Don’t let this important service fall to the wayside!