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A Day in the Life of a CARI Helpline Advisor

Marianne gets to work in the CARI office at 9 o’clock, although her starting time is 9.30.  She needs to get in early to prepare the Helpline offices and therapy rooms for the busy day ahead.

First on Marianne’s list of things to do is to open and check the therapy rooms.  When the rooms are prepared and neutralized (returning the room to make it look brand new so when each child enters it’s a fresh space for them) she then checks for any messages left on the Helpline answering machine and checks for any emails which may have come in.  All these messages need to be carefully logged and responded to during the course of the day.

Next, Marianne will check the Communication Book – this is an in-house communication tool which facilitates handover’s from shift to shift, where all members of the Helpline team can transfer information to all team members coming in for a later shift.

When this is done, she then starts to work through any correspondence from the previous night.  Whilst going about these tasks Marianne is available to answer the Helpline phone when it rings.

A call can last anywhere from five minutes up to an hour in length.  Some callers need extra support, and if this is the case, Marianne can offer and arrange a face to face appointment with a member of the therapy team.  Making an appointment may sometimes require a number of calls before a time and date can be agreed on by both the client and the therapist.

Following on from taking a call, Marianne then has to write up the details of that call. She will make notes of the caller’s main concern and any issues that they need support with. The call details are entered into the CARI register book and the information is passed onto the therapist dealing with the case if appropriate.   All information received to the Helpline is confidential and a number is allocated to each client to protect this confidentiality.

Should a face to face appointment be requested and set up, Marianne will then create a file on the case for the therapist and reserve a therapy room. This ensures the therapist allocated to the client knows the appointment date and time.

Marianne can also arrange a face to face appointment with the therapists in our CARI Centre in Limerick, should this be the closest location for the client to attend.  She will them communicate all relevant information to the Limerick office.

It is vital that Marianne is familiar with the geographic location of the CARI Centre and the transport links to the office as most clients will require some help with direction, bus routes and train station locations should they be attending a CARI centre.  She also has to be familiar with other services which she may need to refer clients on to and their locations.

Other tasks which need to be attended to each and every day are call statistics, attendance statistics, outreach training, interagency liaison, general housekeeping of the therapy rooms.  Marianne is responsible for answering the main door, warmly welcoming the clients and showing them to the waiting room.  Often if parents are waiting for their child/children, she will offer them a cup of tea or coffee.

Call statistics entail correlating information about the calls we receive – a huge part of Marianne’s role is capturing trends.

Attendance statistics are recorded weekly to obtain an overview of the amount of face to face appointments offered and clients that attend.   This helps us plan better to maximize our time and resources.

Marianne is also involved with CARI’s outreach training.  CARI provides Child Protection Training and Understanding Sexualised Behaviour to agencies that interact with children and adolescents.

As part of her role, Marianne also maintains links with other agencies with a view to learning from each other, sharing ideas and gaining a deeper sense of other service providers’ services.

While CARI employs a housekeeper to maintain the rooms within the centre, part of Marianne’s role is to maintain the toys and art materials in the therapy rooms.  This includes ensuring all art supplies are topped up, cleaning toys which are often used in the sand boxes, compartmentalizing toys, i.e. animals are in one box, Lego is in another.

Therapy room management is another of Marianne’s tasks.  Consistency is important for CARI’s clients.  Each client should have structured appointments, ensuring the same room and weekly time is allocated to help relieve any anxiety they may have.  It is her role to maintain that consistent structure by managing the traffic through the rooms.