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Referral Continuity

No matter what our EAP service model is; internal, external affiliate, external staff or hybrid, each moving part of our EAP CIR process matters. A well-oiled, fully informed, EAP mission oriented response, enhances partnership and maximizes outcomes. It reduces gaps, miscommunications, and poorly formed interventions that could potentially fail our organizational client’s expectations.

Referral Continuity speaks to the representation of the professional, onsite provider. Not just in customer service skills, (although very important), but in how well do they convey understanding and delivery of the EAP mission; and the theoretical CIR approach of the EAP they represent. As an EAP organization, you are placing the reputation of your program, during a highly critical and visible moment, into the hands of someone you may not know a thing about. This is particularly a challenge as the EAP industry moves towards evolving in their response approach.

The Multi-Systemic Resiliency Approach (MSRA) emphasizes the importance of the four response systems working in sync as depicted in the diagram. While partnership amongst all systems is necessary, referral continuity focuses on the strength of connection between the EAP and the professional it sends onsite. The strength of this connection is measured by such attributes as:

  • Onsite professional’s knowledge and experience with the EAP mission

  • Onsite professional’s ability to interact with organizational leadership consistent with EAP protocols.

  • Onsite professional’s CIR approach being consistent with the EAP’s

  • Direct access from both systems to maximize communication

When all of these are favorable, the response is a more fully integrated, EAP centric approach.

Each EAP’s service delivery model has its unique challenges to have strong referral continuity. In addressing this, we start at looking at the number of moving parts deployed on any critical incident. On one end of the spectrum, an internal EAP, who has one organizational client and an internal staff to service it, provides all the functions of response. They are the EAP and the onsite providers. They are all working off the same blueprint. A response may involve one person who carries out all phases! The strength of continuity is at its highest level.

Now, compare that to an external affiliate EAP model. This model services hundreds of organizational clients. To operationalize this, calls often come in through a call center, travels to specialized EAP consultants (dedicated management team, account executives etc.), explores the availability of locally based affiliate providers, then deploys. There are additional moving parts. If they use a third party crisis vendor, then a fifth system needs to be integrated. All these moving parts need to be trained in the same approach, utilizing consistent workflows to support and operationalize resilience.

Both service delivery models, and all the one’s in between, can work successfully if attention is paid to this level of strength between the EAP and the Professional system.

The good news is since the release of MSRA in 2013, the field is moving this way. Many EAPs with various delivery models are getting their internal moving parts trained in MSRA. They are learning to look through the lens of resilience when responding to an onsite request. In 2016, more EAPs are asking their affiliate providers to consider getting trained in MSRA as well. RDA is offering discounts to make this more available. More EAPs are accepting the MSRA training for providers to join their network as does Crisis Care Network the nation’s largest crisis response vendor.

The emergence of the Employee Assistance Specialist- Clinical, Certificate (EAS-C), a foundational training designed by the Employee Assistance Professional Association (EAPA), is increasing provider knowledge in EAP and improving issues related to continuity. RDA has also made available a list of providers who have been trained in MSRA and EAP. Call them directly. See-!map/c15h2 . We are heading in the right direction.

After reading this, which moving part are you? How well do you fit into the moving parts of EAP CIR around you? Lastly, what will you do about it?

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