by Kristen McLaughlin, Trainer, Foothold Technology
November 22, 2016
AWARDS, our electronic record for human service agencies, stands for Affordable Wide Area Relational Database System. For this blog post, I’d like to address the “R” which stands for “relational.” A relational database includes functionality that allows information in one module or section of the database, to speak to another section. This helps eliminate the need for double data entry and eases the burden of documentation on the service provider. AWARDS was developed with relational capability throughout its many modules, but it is especially apparent in the Calendar Module. The AWARDS Calendar functionality provides users with a comprehensive scheduling system for staff, clients, programs, and provider appointments/events.
As someone who was originally an end user and who is now an AWARDS trainer, I have a unique perspective and fondness for the Calendar. As a user in my agency’s implementation phase, I specifically remember my excitement about the Calendar capabilities. Its functionality seemed to be the solution to the problem areas that my agency struggled with the most. At the time, staff were tracking various client events, such as service plans, on their oversized desk calendars. In order to get an idea of what was going on in my program each week, I had to ask for separate staff calendars to be printed every Monday, so I would know which clients to expect on a day to day basis.
In the beginning, I thought the AWARDS Calendar would simply provide my agency with some much needed organization. I soon found that the AWARDS Calendar would exponentially exceed my expectations. From within the Calendar, I could write progress notes for my clients with the date, time, and duration already included. I could see when service plans were due and navigate to them with the click of a button. I could see the most up-to-date schedules for my fellow staff members in real time. This functionality greatly assisted with collaboration and helped my agency provide the best support to our clients, not to mention streamline work processes and greater efficiency.
Looking back, one of my favorite features of the Calendar, was its ability to automatically reflect updated events when information was modified in another module. For example, I knew my consents to speak with emergency contacts expired after 1 year. I’d input that date while I was entering in my contact consents. Once I updated the record, that date would automatically be placed on the Calendar, 1 year into the future. No more flipping forward 12 months on my oversized desk calendar! This relational feature of AWARDS reduced human errors that come with double data entry, such as staff forgetting to put information in all the places it is needed, inputting different data, accidentally adding information to the wrong client, and so on.
Now that I’m an AWARDS trainer, I enjoy showing new AWARDS users how reports run within the Calendar module can capture snapshots of an agency’s productivity. This includes seeing summary tables depicting the number of upcoming events, a summary of which clients have plans due, in what timeframe, and which staff member is responsible. Another time saving feature, the “Progress Notes Summary,” provides a table that lists each program appointment shown in the calendar, along with information on whether each appointment has been documented with a corresponding progress note. By utilizing this summary, staff can see if services provided during these program appointments are being recorded.
During trainings, I often reflect back on the times when, as a user, the AWARDS Calendar supported my work in so many ways. I try to channel the excitement I felt as an AWARDS user then and combine it with my knowledge I have as a trainer now, to convey just how useful this module can be for agencies. The Calendar is one of my favorite modules because it speaks to so many other areas of AWARDS. It offers users the ability to coordinate services with other staff in an effortless and effective way — something only a relational database like AWARDS can provide. Like all areas of AWARDS, we continue to enhance functionality of the Calendar to meet new demands. I love how technology continues to evolve to meet our needs. How is technology supporting your work?