Group programs are an important part of the services provided by social service organizations and nonprofits. That’s why our case management software, Penelope, has a simple, built-in Groups feature that makes managing, tracking, and reporting on group activities easy!
Social service organizations offer a variety of group programs, including group therapy programs, support groups, classes, drop-in series, training programs, and even presentations given to the community. We recognize that different programs need to be tracked differently, so we’ve made it possible to set up three distinct group types in Penelope to help you easily track the data you’re collecting.
The first group type is the most common, so it’s simply called a Group. This type can be used in most formal group therapy and support group scenarios.
2. Informal Group Series
This group type is perfect for tracking informal group programs, like weekly drop-in classes.
3. Anonymous Services
The final group type can be used in situations where no client information or attendance needs to be tracked, but you’d like to capture rough numbers of participants or materials distributed. For example, you could take note of how many branded t-shirts and pamphlets you gave out during a speaking engagement at a local high school.
Now that you know the differences between our three group types, it’s time to figure out how to use them.
To begin, we’ll explore the most commonly used feature: Groups. This feature can be used to create groups within the programs being run at your organisation. For example, you could have a service called “Mental Health Counselling”, within which you can set up group programs called “Explaining Depression to Friends and Family”, “Overcoming OCD”, or “Re-Entering the Workplace After Experiencing Trauma”. There’s no limit to how many programs or groups you can set up and it’s easy to add registrants, start and end dates, documentation, and other relevant information to each one. You can also associate staff members and organisational resources, such as shared I.T. equipment, with each group to eliminate the possibility of double-booking.
Once these groups are created in Penelope and sessions are scheduled, it’s time to start enrolling clients. You can enroll clients directly from the Group page, or add each individually by opening a client’s file, selecting the group from a drop-down list, and clicking save to enroll the client. After the client is enrolled, all scheduled class dates are automatically added to the client’s file and appointment calendar.
After the session takes place, staff can add both general group notes that appear on each attendee’s file, and client-specific notes that only appear on a selected group member’s case file. They can also access the group in Penelope to mark attendance using our intuitive group attendance feature, which allows users to record attendance for multiple group members in one step. Each client’s attendance record then shows up automatically in their file.
Participants could then be sent a satisfaction survey or thank you note from their session leader either manually or automatically using smart forms and automated workflows. Staff members also have the ability to communicate directly with session participants using the messaging feature in ClientConnect and with their colleagues using the Collaboration Suite.
Informal Group Series
Another type of group you can set up in Penelope is called an Informal Series. An Informal Series is very similar to a regular Group but is not associated with specific client cases. This means that although registrant attendance can still be recorded, no individualised session notes or billing components can be included. The Informal Series group type is often used for drop-in support groups, free classes, and intermittent training courses.