211 is a free, confidential information and referral service for community and social services available across the province. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Islanders can access 211 support by calling 211, texting 211, or by searching through the online database.
211 is for people from all walks of life, seeking information about community, social, government and non-urgent medical services in their community and province, either for themselves or for someone else. For example, it could be used by someone seeking home care support for a senior, a teenage looking for job-seeking skills training, a recent new Canadian needing language or employment training, or a person living with a disability determining which local or government services are available in their community.
211 has collected information on over 1500 community and social programs delivered across PEI by local community groups, non-profit agencies and government departments. The information is then organized by need, not by who delivers the service – making the search easier. Importantly, 211 is dedicated to working every day to expand the list of services and to ensure it is always accurate.
When a difficult situation is being faced for the fist time, the path to overcoming it might not seem obvious. Finding home care for an aging parent, dealing with a troubled teenager or experiencing addiction or job loss are just a few examples of the hundreds of possible social situations that aren’t a normal part of life for most people. That’s where 211 comes in. The team at 211 has solutions that are just a “click away”. Even problems that seem trivial, like coping with loneliness or adjusting to a new part of life, 211 is there to help.
211 is easy to remember, reducing confusion, frustration and delay that might come from trying to search for services. Islanders can easily and quickly connect to the services they need, anywhere in the province, regardless of where they are located, through one phone number and on one website.
Service providers can better support their clients by using the 211 directory and contact center support.
211 usage reports help identify service gaps, duplication and emerging trends that will better inform policy decision makes and planners in their work to ensure the right resources and services are in place where they are most needed.
There is no cost for Islanders to use 211. The Government of Prince Edward island and the United Way of Prince Edward Island are providing funds to support this initiative.
All contact to 211, whether by phone, email or through the on-line directory, is confidential. Information and Referral Specialists do not collect identifying information such as name or address. The Information and Referral Specialist will ask for a postal code or community in which the caller lives, in order that an appropriate referral can be made.
The services are confidential and can be anonymous – only with consent is it no anonymous (as an example, an Islander calling after hours may choose to provide contact information if a follow-up is needed during business hours).
Although an electronic record is made for each call taken, it is just for statistical purposes and is non-identifying.
Each service is complementary but unique; in fact, 211 has been proven to reduce congestion on other lines, with referrals being made between services.
Other n-1-1 complementary services are listed by clicking here.
The role of the 211 Information and Referral Specialist is to talk through situations with people who are not looking for, and do not need, immediate intervention. If it becomes apparent that they do need immediate intervention, the 211 Specialist is trained to route the call to 911.
211 does not provide case management services – this remains with the Island’s service providers who are experts in their work. 211 is an information and referral service that supports Islanders in connecting to the right organization and the right service to meet their needs. Once the individual is connected to the service provider, there is no tracking of that individual’s use of services of those service providers.
There are hundreds of non-profit organizations on PEI, in addition to scores of government departments. When individuals go without help because they are unaware of services available to them, our communities waste valuable resources and people fail to get the help they need. With 211, communities can address the diverse needs of their residents and ensure increased coordination among services, identify gaps and overlaps in services by geographic mapping, and track human service usage. By providing centralized point of information, 211 will help ensure the most efficient use of community resources.
One of the significant value-added elements of 211 is the online database that, for the first time, provides easy-to-access and easy-to search information on every social service and program in the province. With this very powerful tool at their fingertips, the Island’s many service providers are able to quickly direct people to services that are outside of their own organization’s scope or area of expertise. It allows them to discover and connect with other service providers whose goals and mandates complement their own, building stronger community networks.
Telephone books are helpful but they don’t tell the complete story. Many organizations provide multiple services and providers are not listed by each service, nor are the services always reflected in the organization’s name. 211 maintains an extensive database of services that includes information on how to access the service. Importantly, 211 specialists can assist callers in ways that a directory of services cannot, by fully understanding their needs and helping them find the appropriate services.
A province-wide 211 service ensures that all people – regardless of where they live – have equal access to information. For example, a resident in Charlottetown can easily search for support options for their father living in O’Leary. Both costs and benefits are optimized with a province-wide approach. The overall goal is to eventually have 211 services across Canada. By having a province-wide service, it is much easier to plug into a national network, providing rapid and effective services for all Canadians.
To be truly accessible, people need to be able to get information at all times of the day, whenever they may need it most. While they may not always be able to link with the services themselves at that hour, they can get the necessary information about the services, its location, contact information and hours to provide solutions and peace of mind. Alternatively, there are also certain community services that are available 24 hours a day that may be applicable to the caller’s needs and 211 can assist them in sourcing those promptly.
Given the rural nature of PEI, locating services so that they are accessible to everyone is a challenge. If 211 does not have information on a service within a caller’s community, the Information and Referral Specialist will help find those services closest to where they live.
Also, 211 collects important information on needs that are not being met because services are not available or because the demands are greater than can be met by existing services. 211 provides this vital information to planes who are then able to use it to better understand where the needs are and how service delivery can be improved to meet those needs.