Integration of local I&A lines with the national Advice Line

To help make I&A delivery across the network more seamless, the I&A Team have been working on a programme of Integration. Find out all about it here.

A key element of our I&A Strategy is to make our delivery more seamless, and to reduce the need for older people (and those enquiring on their behalf) to repeat themselves when we refer them from national to local services and vice versa.  To this end, we have been working on a programme of Integration, through which the national Advice Line and local Age UK I&A services can work better together to deliver a more accessible and seamless service to people phoning Age UK for I&A. 

There are two elements to the integration programme:

Diverting – local to national. 

This means that local partners set up their I&A phone line to divert to the national Advice Line when they are closed or not available to take calls.  A less automatic version of this is to put the Advice Line number on the local AUKs’ I&A line ansafone message.  Most local partners are set up to divert to the Advice Line.  As a result, older people are more able to access I&A by phone, with the Advice Line being open 11 hours a day, every day of the week.

Callbacks – national to local. 

This means that when the Advice Line gets an enquiry where local support is needed, they can pass a secure message (with name, contact details and nature of enquiry) to the local AUK asking for them to make a callback to the enquirer. (Live transfers are also possible, if the local Age UK is available immediately).

Both elements of integration were working well, with around 90 brand partners up until a couple of years ago, but then the adoption of a new CRM system nationally meant that the callback element no longer worked and had to be rebuilt.  That rebuild has finally been completed, and we are now able to roll out the full integration programme again. 

With both elements working, it means that the Advice Line can effectively triage callers diverted from local Age UK I&A lines, giving information and signposting to most, but booking callbacks for the local I&A service to make for those callers who need it.

How the new system works

The secure messages to enable callbacks are delivered through the new Brand Partner Portal system, which partners are being introduced to and which will increasingly be the method by which partners and national Age UK of share information with each other, especially about services. 

Once they have checked that the relevant local Age UK is integrated and can accept callback requests, Advice Line staff can record on the CRM system that a callback is needed, and this triggers an email to the local Age UK I&A service, asking them to make the callback within 2-5 working days. A local I&A worker can then log on to the Portal to see the details of the case, including contact details, make the callback, and record on the Portal that this action has been taken.

How your I&A service can integrate with the national Advice Line

We are working with local partners depending on the level of support needed to set them up. We have worked first with those who were previously integrated before the CRM change and where there have been no major changes in staffing and systems.  Around 18 local partners are now live on the system, and we are confident that it works well.

The next group of partners we are working with are those who were integrated but where there has since been a new I&A Manager.  Development Advisers are currently in the process of contacting the relevant I&A Managers to check they are still keen to go ahead, and to gather necessary information. The aim is to integrate these partners by mid or end of September.

From September we will work with partners who were previously integrated but may need a bit more support, given significant changes in their service delivery, and consider with them if and how integration can be best used to support their service.  Finally, we will contact the remaining Age UKs to discuss if and how they can be integrated, with the aim of integrating all partners who wish to be integrated by December.

If you have not yet heard from us about when you might be integrated, please contact integrationcustenquiries@ageuk.org.uk to register your interest.

Is integration for everyone?

Yes any partner can be integrated, but not all local partners will feel that now is the right time to proceed with this.  Changes to local working practices brought about by the pandemic may have an impact on a local Age UK’s capacity to support/engage with integration.  If you feel the time is not right for your Age UK to be integrated, the Admin Team can work with you to decide when is the best time.

What support will national Age UK provide in setting this up?

The Admin Team at the national Advice Line are the lead contact for local partners in setting up integration, and any enquiries or issues should be directed to them at integrationcustenquiries@ageuk.org.uk.  The Admin team consists of Allison Brown (Team Leader), Janet Connors, Trina Bailey-Wood and Nikki Evans. The Admin team have already successfully reintegrated 18 Local Age UKs.  They will be supported by the IADAs in rolling it out further.

For more I&A news, information and resources, head to the I&A Hub on WordPress.

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