Suppose your grandfather who resides in your home has recently become in need of adaptive equipment to help him bathe . . . or you have a mobility impairment and are trying to locate a local swimming pool that is fully handicapped accessible. What if you live on the West Coast of the United States, and are interested in learning about delivered meals programs for your elderly parent in Davidson, North Carolina?
Heretofore, obtaining accurate, concise usable information on these and countless other issues may have been a very difficult and frustrating experience. Senior citizens, adults with disabilities, their families and caregivers are often made to navigate through a maze of telephone numbers, web sites and countless printed guides before even having the opportunity to get their questions answered.
In many situations, citizens, especially seniors do without essential services solely because they are not aware of them. Needs that are simple may become urgent, and even critical because information and assistance is not easily available.
Organizations throughout the United States and Canada have been tackling the problem of providing comprehensive information services to seniors for some years. One such program that has been recognized for its innovation is Just1Call; the one-stop, high-tech, high-touch information and assistance service in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina.
Just1Call is a service of Mecklenburg County government and was designed by a diverse team of professionals, consumers and other key stakeholders, both in the public and private, and for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
There are in excess of 100,000 seniors and adults with disabilities residing in Mecklenburg County. An Aging Issues Report sponsored by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Aging Coalition revealed that over one-third of the seniors polled did not know where to turn for information about services.
Just1Call, utilizing strong input from seniors, outlined strategies to eliminate the barriers to obtaining and effectively using information. For example, Just1Call has successfully eliminated use of an automated telephone answering system. There are no complicated push-button menus or transfers from one operator to another that often confuse and frustrate senior callers.
Calls to Just1Call are answered directly by highly trained and experienced social workers that have the ability to effectively communicate and listen not only to what is said by caller, but what is not said, knowing when and how to delve into deeper, often difficult issues.
The social worker who answers the call is most often the only person the customer will have to speak in order to have the confronting problems addressed, whatever those problems may be. The social worker can do comprehensive screenings and assessments of need, either over the phone or in the customer’s home.
Just1Call’s social workers do a great deal more than disbursing phone numbers of service providers. To achieve the highest level of customer service, the social workers practice what J1C calls “closing the loop.” The social workers will engage in three-way calls to assure that an effective connection is made between the caller and provider, and that accurate information is received and understood by all parties involved.
Just1Call’s social workers routinely make follow-up contacts with customers and service providers. This assures that the assistance provided by Just1Call and the referred agencies is of the highest quality possible. Outcomes are carefully measured and reviewed by Just1Call and Mecklenburg County.
Just1Call utilizes an award-winning custom designed computer system to help link the customer to the most appropriate resources available in a personal, friendly, and professional manner. Just1Call’s mobile technology allows Just1Call to fully operate in satellite locations, bringing its entire range of services into the communities where the need is greatest.
Just1Call can help customers access a variety of services in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, such as:
Transportation and housing
Health care services and products
Leisure and social activities
Just1Call is totally confidential, free of charge and easy to use.
Just1Call has forged solid partnerships with businesses, agencies and organizations throughout Mecklenburg County. Just1Call is the first information and assistance provider in the region to include for-profit providers in their database.
To accomplish this, an Inclusion/Exclusion policy was collaboratively written by Just1Call and the United Way of Central Carolinas, Just1Call’s partner in maintaining the provider database, which currently includes nearly three thousand programs.
There was an early degree of apprehension on the part of the private sector in Mecklenburg County. Could a government-administered program maintain effective working relationships with such a variety of providers? Just1Call has robustly accomplished this. The rate of new providers in the database, both public and private, increases each month. One private business has called Just1Call “an asset to this community.” The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce is looking to Just1Call to help address vital caregiving issues that affect both employers and employees.
Just1Call recognizes the vast cultural diversity in Mecklenburg County and can deliver the same quality service to callers in more than 140 languages. Just1Call also recognizes individual’s preferences regarding methods of communication.
Just1Call has an easy-to-read “interactive” web site, which allows Internet users to access the entire Just1Call provider database as well as the “hottest” information on the Community Bulletin Board. Service providers can apply for inclusion or change current data in the Just1Call database via the web.
The success of Just1Call has not gone unnoticed. Just1Call has played a significant role in meeting the needs of its target population and has been presented both nationally and internationally as a model of a community-based information and assistance program.
The methods employed by Just1Call to tie together the interests of a diverse population with a variety of agencies and organizations have been carefully reviewed in the states of North Carolina, Texas, New York, Mississippi and Maryland.
Locally, one customer has called Just1Call “the best use of my tax money I have ever seen.” Another commented “When I use Just1Call, I never feel rushed, and I get the help I need. No problem is ever to big or too small for Just1Call.”
You are invited to contact Just1Call at 704-432-1111 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, or toll-free at 877-889-0323. You can visit Just1Call on the Internet at www.just1call.org
A service of Mecklenburg County
One Call. One Source. Wonderful!