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<xTITLE>Caseload Manager Helps Ombuds Offices Meet Best Practice Standards</xTITLE>

Caseload Manager Helps Ombuds Offices Meet Best Practice Standards

by Clare Fowler, Jim Melamed
Caseload Manager

Ombuds offices have elevated and unique needs for managing personal and case information and for meeting other best practice standards. Caseload Manager now supports ombuds offices meeting International Ombudsman Association (IOA) best practice case management standards.

Ombuds offices are commonly based on a core set of unique best practice standards that set them apart from other types of dispute resolution offices. For this reason, typical case management software typically does not fit the unique needs of an ombuds office. Caseload Manager, developed by the people at Mediate.com, has now, however, been developed specifically to support and reinforce ombuds best practices of independence, neutrality, confidentiality, and informality. 

Independence

Ombuds offices are designed to be independent from the agency they work for. An ombuds office within a university, for example, is designed to operate independent from the university, meaning that the ombuds is not partial to any office, employee, or student. 

For this reason, an ombuds case management system for managing cases should ideally be fully independent from the employer's (university in this example) computer system and IT department. A university ombuds office should ideally not store any confidential user information on the university's main servers. 

Critically, Caseload Manager stores its data on its own secure, encrypted cloud servers, which only the ombuds and approved staff can access on a case specific basis. Caseload Manager offers options of storing client data either in the U.S. (Virginia) or E.U. (Frankfurt).

Neutrality

For an ombuds office to be effective, users need to have confidence that the office is neutral and separate from common organizational administration. Using Caseload Manager as an impartial platform helps to reinforce the neutrality of the ombuds office. 

  • Using the Caseload Manager Mail Hub, ombuds can decide what specific information goes to each participant and clearly state what is visible to each side. This reinforces neutrality, accountability and transparency.
  • Information sent out from the Caseload Manager platform can easily be configured to feel less imposing to recipients than formal organizational communications.
  • There are instances where office users want or need to meet with the ombuds off-site in order to protect their identity. Since Caseload Manager is housed in the cloud, ombuds can access case information from anywhere. This gives ombuds and staff added freedom to choose and use neutral meeting locations.

Confidentiality

Keeping ombuds case information in a secure digital environment is critical to protecting ombuds clients' confidentiality. There are no paper trails or hard copy files. Staff can choose which information they want to memorialize about a client and situation, and if they would like personally identifying information deleted upon case closure. Personal identifying information is removed while still maintaining data for all case reports and analysis. 

With Caseload Manager, ombuds also have the option to allow staff to log in to Caseload Manager and view their individual personal calendar and case activities, without being able to see private visitor or case information. Each office tailors their desired level of information access for staff by roles or individually. 

If ombuds needs information from a visitor, this information can be requested through email and a secure upload directly into Caseload Manager. Once uploaded, only the ombuds and authorized staff have access to this documentation and only the ombuds can choose to delete it.  

Informality and Ease

Nearly all aspects of Caseload Manager can be configured and adjusted so as to be an effective extension of your unique ombuds office. Perhaps the best thing about Caseload Manager is that support and training are all included and there is a fantastic Caseload Manager Support Site at www.CaseloadManager.com/Support.

Commonly, the easiest way for ombuds offices to get going with Caseload Manager is to first import International Ombudsman Association (IOA) case types and complaint standards. Your office can then customize these settings and also create your own additional custom case fields, resolution options, statuses, outcomes, stationary, and other custom fields and settings to best represent and organize your services.

Ombuds offices are invited to take advantage of the current free trial of Caseload Manager (including training and support).

Biography



Clare Fowler, Managing Editor at Mediate.com, received her Master's of Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, focused on reducing workplace conflicts, from Pepperdine University School of Education. Clare also coordinated the career development program for The Straus Institute dispute resolution students. In addition to her editorial duties at Mediate.com, Clare coordinates online case management for ADR programs, agencies and courts.


Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and has served as CEO of Mediate.com ever since.  Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.

Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86). Jim's undergraduate degree is in in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.Jim has received the following awards: The Oregon Mediation Association's 2003 Award for Excellence; The Oregon State Bar's 2006 Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence; The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; and The 2012 Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) "Getting To Yes" Award.

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