When being presented with information, one can fall behind or get confused on what the information provider is relaying.
Especially for those of us that are no longer young bucks (I speak only for myself), sometimes being overloaded with information can be frustrating.
I recently had to contact my student loan lender to receive information about my repayment schedule, amount, terms, conditions of taking a deferment, etc. Thankfully, the young lady who was helping me out was cordial and willing to help me out. Sometimes though, people are not as patient and just want to get you off of the phone. Sometimes we get very flustered and panic our way to the end of the conversation.
In the spirit of advocacy for your clients, self, or agency, I am proposing a solution for managing information overload that a social worker might face when receiving a lot of information from another resource.
Read more about how you can use Evernote to better advocate for your clients and yourself, after the break!
Intervention: Use Evernote to Help You Retain Important Information!
For the sake of relevancy to social work, I am going to model this intervention as if I am calling a colleague or other service provider for the client.
This intervention can also be used for your own self-advocacy. For instance, if you are calling to find out information for a job, are talking to your boss about an important project (with specific expectations), or are doing other NON-CLIENT-IDENTIFYING ACTIVITIES.
Part I: Prepping for my Phone Call
I always prepare a list of questions because, quite frankly, I’m not very good on my feet when in the middle of a conversation. Knowing that I would be bombarded with information and that my mind would ask many questions I had not yet written down, I always feel a need to be very prepared.
I believe a well-prepared phone conversation (as opposed to a scatterbrained style) projects control and professionalism.
Below, you will see some of the questions that I have prepared for the conversation.
Part II: Recording the Conversation to Evernote
The above picture shows my smart phone calling an outside agency and my iPad recording it. In lieu of the cell phone, one can use the speaker function of their landline phone and use your smartphone or iPad to record the conversation into Evernote.
While the conversation is recording, I am writing feverishly on my notepad.
Remember, anything you say about a client gets uploaded to the web, so whether or not you have a Release of Information, keep your comments non-client identifying!
Part III: Getting Your information Straight
The benefit of this intervention is that by recording the phone conversation, one can reference information received at a later time, process it again, and reference it to make sure you have your tasks and information straight.
With the conversation I had with my colleague, I was thrown various client qualifications for admission to her program, as well as some expectations, what the ideal candidate needs to have completed, and types of insurance taken.
She relayed other valuable information that my mighty pen lagged behind in recording, but that technology helped me to keep up with by capturing everything.
Typing Out Your Scribble
I then take the time to transcribe the conversation into Evernote by typing it out.
You could probably get away with taking a picture of your notepad page(s) and attaching it to your note (in Evernote), but then you will have to eventually take time later to transcribe what you just wrote down.
This is how I do it:
I like to write out all relevant information into coherent sentences/statements of information. Then I group relevant
information together in my note. I will then make sections and write out all the relevant information that I will need into sections (e.g. Program Information Qualifications, Process of admission, what to expect, etc.)
I have used the above intervention in practice, in person, with my supervisor/employer in a non-client specific manner. I let them know that it is because they talk fast and I want to get everything that they want written down correctly so I ask if I can retain the conversation by recording it – they typically give permission. When they do, they are fully aware they are being recorded.
Ethical (and Legal) Considerations in Social Work Practice
- I am a practitioner of the sentiment that you do unto others as you want done to you. That said, the prudent, legal, and ethical way to go about following through with this intervention is to let the person on the other end of the line know that you’re recording the conversation for your own reference.
- In many local governments (in the U.S.), it is my understanding that it is legal to record a conversation if at least one of the speaking parties (i.e. you) know that the conversation is being recorded.
- Be sure to research or consult to make sure you are in compliance with the law. You may also want to Google: “phone call, recording, legal, [your state]” Or speak to your legal counsel to make sure you are not violating any laws.
- Lastly, Evernote is not a good harbor for Client-specific/-identifying data. Proceed with caution!