Alzheimer Society of Durham Region
“We’re able to attract potentially new funders or new grants because we know we will be able to report on what’s required.”
The Alzheimer Society of Durham Region (ASDR) provides support programs, educational resources, and referral services to ease the burden of care and improve the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as for their care partners and families.
In 2017, the Whitby, Ontario-based agency selected the Penelope case management platform to help manage their client information, track client progress and outcomes, document notes and clinical information, and manage appointment scheduling and attendance.
Penelope Helps Increase Efficiency and Improve Processes
As Gillian Barrie, Director of Clinical Services at ASDR explained, since completing the initial implementation of Penelope, they’ve expanded Penelope’s use across the agency and have also started to take advantage of Penelope’s suite of client engagement features to make their referral process easier.
“Recently we actually started using the Add.Me feature, which is a web-based referral form that is secure,” she said. “Our referral partners are able to use that web form very easily and the information goes directly into our secure client database. And we’re finding, especially with the current climate, that a lot of people are working remotely, they don’t have access to a fax machine to send in a referral, so having a web-based option has been incredibly important for us.”
ASDR worked with Athena’s experienced Tailored Services team to help build and implement the web form, which allows the organization’s community partners to enter a referral directly from the ASDR website and have that information saved seamlessly in Penelope.
“We worked with Tailored Services for our web form development and it was really wonderful to be able to sit down with someone and they understood what we trying to achieve,” said Barrie. “We also needed to have a web form that was bilingual and so they were very, very helpful in being able to build that for us. We try to be as efficient as possible, and I think that it allows us to retain the arrangement we have with our existing funders and know that we’re reporting back on something that is accurate.”
Accurate Data and Flexible Reporting
As a charitable organization, ASDR relies on grants and other funding sources to allow them to continue providing support services to their community.
“We have to be incredibly efficient, incredibly nimble, in how we use those funds,” said Barrie, “and we have an obligation to report back on those funds. So we really require accurate statistical data that is able to tell our funders exactly what we’re doing and what we’re using their money for.”
Reporting to different entities means there’s no one standard report that’s needed. Barrie said Penelope’s built-in reports combined with the option to query the database to create custom reports has enabled them to meet their varying reporting needs.
“We pull the raw data and we’re able to use it as we need,” she said. “The process of building custom reports is more for those external reports that we send to our funders because they are a little bit more in-depth (and) they often change, in terms of requirements. So it’s definitely something that we’re constantly trying to improve on, and we’re always looking for ways to enhance our capacity because what we don’t want is staff time being taken up running reports. It’s something that we need to be able to do quickly.”
Added Barrie: “We also sometimes will have new grants or funding requirements that come in that we weren’t expecting, so if we can use the front-end reports very quickly to pull that information, for us that is a huge advantage,” she said.
Having confidence in the accuracy of the data stored in Penelope is critical, Barrie said.
“For our existing funders, we’re confident in what we would provide to them, but then also we’re able to attract potentially new funders or new grants because we know we will be able to report on what’s required.”
Adopting Penelope has also helped ASDR assess the growing need for their services in the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For us, it really helps us plan our upcoming programs and services, but it also allows us to report back on our performance and the demand for our service,” said Barrie, adding that this can also help determine if new funding is required for additional staff and services.
Staying Secure and Embracing Change
Knowing that Athena is ISO certified for their information security management systems provides ASDR with peace of mind with respect to data security and privacy concerns, Barrie said.
“Going through Penelope and using the Add.Me feature, we knew that that would allow us to have a very secure way of client data being completely safe going into our system. Privacy for us is such a huge piece of being a health care custodian,” she said. “Knowing that our client database meets all of those requirements for us, it gives us much more confidence,” she said.
Adopting a new client management platform like Penelope can be a big change for any organization, but Barrie said that the system’s user-friendliness and Athena’s experienced support teams can help ease the transition and the stress.
“I would say it is easy to use, it’s intuitive, not to be afraid of change,” she said. “I think our team would agree that it is user-friendly and, honestly, having a great support team – we feel we can always go to Penelope, they’re very helpful with whatever our needs might be. It was a pleasure working with Tailored Services on our web-based referral form. We always feel like we can go to them.”
“Change can be good and I do think that this is the future for Community Support Services,” she said. “Overall, it’s been a change for our agency, but a very positive change.”
If your organization is looking to improve efficiency, ease reporting, and save time for staff, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Penelope expert.
Hear it from the Alzheimer’s Society of Durham Region
Join Gillian Barrie from the Alzheimer’s Society of Durham Region and Jordan Fox and Ray Sabharwal from Athena Software as they discuss how human and social service agencies can create efficiency in their organizations using technology.