Athena Software Blog
Track group programs with Penelope case management software
Posted by Jordan Fox on Jan. 17, 2017

Group programs are an essential component of the services provided by our clients at social service organizations and nonprofits worldwide, and that's why our software has a simple, built-in group feature.

Examples of group programs can include group therapy programs, support groups, classes, residential programs, drop-in series, training programs, or even presentations your organization gives to the community.

There are three types of groups that can be set up in Penelope to accommodate any kind of group setting.

The first is the most common and is simply called a Group, which can be used for the majority of formal group therapy and support group scenarios.

There is also an Informal Group Series option in Penelope for informal group settings like a weekly drop-in class, for example.

Lastly, our Anonymous Services feature can track things like presentations in the community, say to a local school, where there is no client information or attendance to be tracked, but you might want to track rough numbers of attendees, brochures handed out, etc.

Like most features in Penelope, there's also a suite of reports for each group type to generate stats on the information you're collecting.

Let’s go through some of these options in more detail starting with the bread and butter: Groups.

Group classes can be set up and configured to reflect whatever type of programs your organization offers.

Within each program you can create an unlimited number of groups, each with its own registrants, start and end dates, documentation, and so on. You can also associate multiple staff members and organizational resources (such as shared I.T. equipment or rooms) for each class to eliminate the potential for double-booking.

Once classes are set, you’re ready to start enrolling clients. Enrolling clients is easy - users simply select the group from a drop-down list and click save to enroll the interested client on the appropriate start date.

Once the client is added, all the scheduled class dates are automatically added to the client’s file for the dates specified. Using Penelope's Automated Workflow feature can sweeten this process by adding auto-reminders or follow-up material for your group program participants.

Penelope Groups

Let’s walk through a quick example. Let’s say you have a Group Therapy program with 20 people registered.

Prior to each session, each client could receive an automated text or e-mail reminding them of their upcoming session directly from Penelope (assuming they have consented to receive reminders). Once the session is in progress or has taken place, the worker can access the group in Penelope and mark attendance in seconds using our intuitive group attendance feature.

Each client's attendance record will show up automatically in their file. Following each session, the participants could be sent a satisfaction survey or perhaps a thank you note from their session leader automatically, using Penelope smart forms and workflows.

From the staff side, they can communicate with their session members using Engage, or with other staff members in the organization using the Collaboration Suite in Penelope. If this process sounds at all complicated, then you need to sign up for one of our monthly webinars so that we can show you how easy it actually is!

Another type of group you can set up in Penelope is an Informal Series. An informal series has many similar characteristics to a regular group. It can have staff and resources assigned to the series or each event within it, and you still have the ability to create general notes and collect details about the event, as well as use smart forms to customize how you document each session or class.

The main difference between Informal Series and groups is that informal series are not associated with client cases and, though they have a roster of clients and attendance can be recorded, there are no individualized session notes or billing components. A case file does not have to be created in order to track an individual’s participation in this kind of series. Typical uses for the Informal Series feature include drop-in groups, free classes, and so on.

Penelope Informal Series can track free classes and drop-in groups

Lastly there are Anonymous Services. These are usually brief, one-time services that your agency offers.

These services don't require the creation of an individual client record in Penelope. Organizations use these type of group programs to track presentations or workshops delivered in the community (as well as many other uses, such as crisis calls or referral requests).

Between these three types of group options, Penelope can be a very effective way to track registration, attendance, progress and detailed results of any group that your organization offers.

The best way to learn more or to see Penelope groups in action is to contact us and ask to set up a short demonstration of this feature. Click the button below to fill out a form and schedule a demo!

Contact Us