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Library: Policy

340:105-10-63. Information and assistance (I&A) methods

Revised 7-15-06

(a) Policy.  The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) establishes and maintains information and assistance (I & A) services in sufficient numbers to ensure that all older persons within the planning and service area have reasonably convenient access to such services.  • 1

(b) Authority.  The authority for this Section is Section 102(29) of the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended.

(c) Cross references.  See OAC 340:105-10-50.1(a)(13), 340:105-10-51, 340:105‑10‑54(a)(3), 340:105-10-61, and 340:105-10-62. 


Revised 3-1-10

1.  The procedures for implementing information and assistance (I & A) methods are listed in this Instruction.

(1) Functions of the I & A service.

(A) Classification system.  The I & A service uses the Alliance of Information and Referral Specialists (AIRS)/211 LA County Taxonomy of Human Services to:

(i) index and facilitate retrieval of resource information;

(ii) increase the reliability of planning data;

(iii) make evaluation processes consistent and reliable; and

(iv) facilitate national comparisons of data.  Additional keywords may be used to supplement the Taxonomy but cannot be used as an independent indexing system.

(B) Resource file.  The I & A service develops, maintains, and uses an accurate, up-to-date resource file that contains information on available community resources and produces detailed data on service providers in the area that are responsive to the needs of senior citizens and their caregivers.  The I & A service develops criteria for the inclusion or exclusion of agencies and programs in the resource database.  These criteria are uniformly applied and published so that Aging network staff and the public are aware of the scope and limitations of the database.  Requirements for the resource file include:

(i) a profile on each resource organization or agency that includes but is not limited to:

(I) legal name, common name, or acronym;

(II) address;

(III) telephone number(s);

(IV) hours and days of service;

(V) services provided;

(VI) eligibility requirements and intake procedures;

(VII) areas served;

(VIII) accessibility, for example, assistance to barriers, teletypewriter or telecommunication device for the deaf (TTY/TDD) number, languages spoken, availability of home visits for intake, lack of bus route access, or restrictions on facility use;

(IX) sponsoring agency;

(X) fees;

(XI) name and title of contact person; and

(XII) date of last update;

(ii) service or problem categories with extensive cross-referencing;

(iii) methods for continuous and annual updating;

(iv) an alphabetical index; and

(v) a method for verifying profile information.

(C) Inquirer data collection.  The I & A service establishes and uses a system of collecting and organizing inquirer data for appropriate referral and to identify gaps in service.  Procedures for data collection are listed in this subparagraph.

(i) Confidentiality of inquirer information is ensured at all times by:

(I) maintaining inquirer data in locked files;

(II) allowing access to inquirer data, with identifying information, for trained project staff, Area Agency on Aging (AAA), and State Agency monitors only; and

(III) disclosing inquirer data, with identifying information, only with the informed consent, either written or verbal, of the older person or by his or her authorized representative.  When verbal consent is obtained, the date and circumstances are documented.

(ii) Data collection forms include at a minimum the information listed in this unit.  Inquirers have the right to withhold information not directly relevant to the resolution of their problems.  Information includes:

(I) name, address, and telephone number of caller;

(II) name of person for whom services are sought if other than caller;

(III) demographic information, for example age, sex, race or ethnicity, and income, when needed for referral to means tested services;

(IV) problems presented by inquirer and problems as assessed by trained staff or volunteer;

(V) services needed;

(VI) organizations to which inquirer was referred;

(VII) method of contact with I & A service, such as letter, telephone, walk-in, or other;

(VIII) manner in which inquirer learned of the I & A service, such as Eldercare Locator, newspaper, friend, or brochure; and

(IX) follow up results, including client's receipt or non-receipt of services.

(D) Data analysis and reporting.  The I & A service establishes and uses a systematic method of collecting and organizing data that provides support for community planning activities and advocacy.  This support is made available to decision makers, advocates, and others, as appropriate, and consists of:

(i) statistics;

(ii) data analysis;

(iii) relevant documentation of service use;

(iv) client characteristics; and

(v) unmet needs, gaps, and duplications in service.

(E) Training.  The I & A service provides orientation and ongoing training to paid and volunteer staff.  The procedures used are included in this subparagraph.

(i) The I & A service has a written training plan for paid and volunteer staff.

(ii) Orientation to the I & A service for both paid and volunteer staff includes the:

(I) Older Americans Act, as amended, and the National Network on Aging;

(II) role, purposes, and functions of the I & A service;

(III) role of the governing body, for example AAA; and

(IV) administrative structure and policies of the service.

(iii) Training for the I & A specialist includes:

(I) interviewing techniques and attitudes;

(II) listening skills;

(III) communications;

(IV) proper telephone usage;

(V) assessment techniques;

(VI) information giving and referral procedures;

(VII) follow up;

(VIII) data recording;

(IX) maintenance of records;

(X) organization of the classification system;

(XI) use of resource files including the identification of new resources;

(XII) use of technology;

(XIII) techniques for handling calls from lonely, suicidal, despondent, or angry callers; and

(XIV) preparation for AIRS certification using the ABC's of I & R (2006) or later edition.

(iv) AIRS certification is required for all I & A specialists within 24 months of hire date in compliance with the experience and education requirements of:

(I) one year of experience with a bachelors degree;

(II) two years of experience with an associates degree;

(III) three years of experience with a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED); or

(IV) five years of experience with no educational requirement.

(F) Promotion.  The I & A service establishes and maintains a planned program of activities to increase community awareness of I & A services and their objectives by:

(i) implementing publicity plans only after evaluating available resources for handling the resulting volume;

(ii) using various methods to publicize the service including:

(I) personal contact;

(II) speaking engagements;

(III) public service announcements or listings;

(IV) radio or television programs;

(V) paid advertisements;

(VI) feature articles or news stories;

(VII) newsletters;

(VIII) coordination with other organizations, businesses, provider and professional associations, government officials, planning bodies, and similar groups;

(IX) telephone directory listings for all areas served by the I & A service, multiple listings in blue pages or in white pages under Aging Information and Assistance and, to the extent possible, appropriate yellow page listings.  The yellow page listings of I & A services provided directly by an AAA, may be combined with the AAA's yellow page listing;

(X) displays; and

(XI) printed materials, such as brochures, posters, telephone stickers, and business cards;

(iii) operating as part of a larger organization coordinating its publicity and public relations activities with those of its sponsor;

(iv) publicizing its services to special need groups in the community, such as foreign language groups, low income, low income minority, socially isolated, or groups serving disabled populations;

(v) using all publicity techniques as frequently as resources permit; and

(vi) coordinating its public relation activities with those occurring at the national or state level, including the use of national logos.

(G) Access to service.  Each I & A service provides reasonably convenient access to help all older persons avail themselves of the services they need as easily as possible, following the guidelines in this subparagraph.

(i) The I & A service coordinates its service delivery with other I & A services, community agencies, and similar organizations to avoid duplication and encourage service integration.

(ii) The I & A service provides immediate, direct client access to the Title III I & A specialist via a separate, clearly identified Senior Info‑Line.

(iii) The I & A service provides a designated back-up during necessary I & A specialist absences.

(iv) The I & A specialist conducts follow-up calls as needed.

(v) Groups and individuals that have special needs have barrier free access to appropriate I & A services.

(2) Client service delivery functions.

(A) Information giving.  The I & A service provides timely, accurate, and pertinent information on available resources to inquirers.  Inquirers are encouraged to contact the I & A service again if the information given proves incorrect, inappropriate, or insufficient to link them with the needed services.  I & A services are provided by:

(i) face-to-face office contact;

(ii) telephone;

(iii) mail;

(iv) group presentations; and

(v) printed resource directories.  Directories:

(I) are printed large enough to be easily read by older persons;

(II) are maintained on computer software, if available, for easier updating;

(III) include 800 numbers, where available;

(IV) include a table of contents and an alphabetized index;

(V) include, in prominent locations, all of the telephone numbers for the AAA and a map of the counties served by the AAA;

(VI) include a state map with a list of all of the AAAs in the state;

(VII) include on the cover the name and telephone number(s) of the I & A service and the geographic area served; and

(VIII) use the same standardized classification system utilized in the resource file, with appropriate cross referencing.

(B) Referral giving.  The I & A service provides timely and appropriate assistance services to inquirers via the methods listed in this subparagraph.

(i) Trained staff, paid or volunteer, makes a determination of the inquirer's needs.

(ii) Staff assists the inquirer in identifying appropriate options that provide the necessary services.  Multiple referrals are given whenever possible.

(iii) Staff makes direct contact with other agencies for the inquirer, where appropriate.

(iv) Staff refers to an advocacy organization or negotiates on behalf of the inquirer to assist the inquirer obtain a needed service when the inquirer is unable to effectively represent himself or herself, or has a complaint about a service.

(C) Follow up.  Follow-up is conducted, when possible, with the permission of the inquirer and never compromises the safety of the inquirer.  Follow-up consists of successfully contacting the inquirer to determine if their need was met and, if not, reasons why their need was not met.  The I & A service follows up referral contacts, according to the guidelines listed in this subparagraph.  Follow up:

(i) is performed:

(I) within 24 hours when an inquirer demonstrates confusion, urgency, or that a crisis exists;

(II) within one week for referrals that, in the judgment of the I & A specialist, are complex or involve multiple services; and

(ii) consists of:

(I) contacting the inquirer to determine if the service is being provided, and to determine the inquirer's satisfaction with the service; and

(II) contacting organizations to which referrals were made to determine the inquirer's service status;

(III) documenting the follow-up results for use in reporting, whether service was received or if there was an unmet need;

(IV) using information gathered during the follow-up to verify and update resource database information that may be incorrect; and

(V) using information gathered during follow-up to evaluate the effectiveness of existing community service providers and for identifying gaps in community services.

(D) Advocacy.  The I & A service offers advocacy on behalf of a person or group when needed services are not adequately provided.  Advocacy efforts:

(i) include the involvement of the individuals and groups concerned;

(ii) are consistent with the policies established by the I & A service's governing body; and

(iii) made through the I & A service do not include legal assistance.  Situations requiring legal action are referred to the appropriate legal services program.

(3) Organizational structure.

(A) Auspices.  The auspices under which the I & A service operates ensure the achievement of I & A goals and meet all Title III requirements.

(B) Staff.  I & A staff are competent, ethical, qualified, and sufficient in number to deliver quality services.  The service is staffed at least 40 hours per week, pending availability of funding, by at least one I & A staff whose primary job is to provide I & A services.  I & A functions may not be assigned as a regular, continuing duty of any other AAA staff position.

(C) Volunteers.  The I & A service makes every effort to involve volunteers in service delivery.  When volunteers are utilized, the I & A service:

(i) screens volunteers and selects those capable of performing essential duties;

(ii) provides volunteers with written job descriptions that outline:

(I) needed skills;

(II) duties to be performed; and

(III) lines of supervision;

(iii) designates a coordinator of volunteers who provides ongoing supervision;

(iv) provides to volunteers orientation and ongoing training, as needed;

(v) reimburses volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses, when resources are available; and

(vi) establishes procedures to recognize volunteers for their support, time, and effort, such as certificates and annual luncheons.

(D) Facilities.  The I & A service sponsor provides facilities that allow the service to operate effectively and efficiently via the guidelines listed in this subparagraph.  The I & A service(s):

(i) provides space to ensure confidential interviewing;

(ii) equips its offices with a telephone system that incorporates the most cost efficient and effective technology possible, within the resources of the service;

(iii) equips its offices with sufficient desks, tables, chairs, supplies, and locking file cabinets;

(iv) provides offices free of architectural barriers to persons with disabilities;

(v) designed to serve walk-ins are accessible by public transportation, where available, have available parking, and are near the population the program is designed to serve; and

(vi) provides for an answering system when staff is not present.  The answering system provides callers with the number and office hours of an organization(s) that provides service in an emergency.

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