How They Work
Whether using an I&R service or a hotline, the specialist answering the call will ask a series of questions to understand the caller's needs. The specialist's responsibility is to listen and provide the caller with the best options available. All conversations are confidential. Personal questions may be asked in order to provide the specialist with information needed to give the most appropriate choices. There might be follow-up contact when appropriate or requested.
A resource database, such as infoMONTGOMERY, is designed only as a tool for finding help. Whereas using an Information & Referral service or a Hotline involves discussing your needs with a person who is knowledgeable about the area's resources.
Beyond I&R services and Hotlines, care or case management services offer the assistance of a professional who is specifically trained to assess an individual's needs. They provide advice on coordinating and/or linking individuals to appropriate services and providers, as necessary. This may also involve continued support on a short or long-term basis.
Asking the Right Questions
Whether you are given a referral from an I&R professional or if you located a service that meets your search criteria from the Internet, it is important to make sure the service is right for you. It is important to ask the right questions of any provider.
- The first set of questions should involve an inquiry about the services offered and your eligibility:
- Ask for clarification about the program activity details, as well as who can participate or receive services.
- Ask for specifics regarding any fees and payment options. Ask whether the provider currently accepts your insurance, if appropriate. If you do not have insurance, ask if you can still receive services.
- Always double check on office hours and location. Find out the type of location where services are offered, e.g. office, school or in the home.
- Ask about the availability of interpretation or translation services, if needed.
- For specialized services, it is important to ask questions about the provider and organization:
- Ask about the provider's years in service and staff experience and training.
- Ask about the facility's or provider's licensure status, particularly in the field of mental health services.
- Ask if the provider has experience offering services to individuals or families from your particular background or unique needs.
Even after your first visit with a service provider, continue to ask questions and evaluate your feelings about the program. You should not feel compelled to stay with a program if you feel uncomfortable, however please remember that reaching out for help and sharing your story with others can often be difficult at first. It is best to give ongoing feedback to the provider from your perspective to see if and how they may best meet your needs.