Information and Referral Process

What is Information and Referral?

The information and referral (I&R) process helps match people with services. It is called an enquiry service.

Certified Information and Referral Specialists (trained staff or volunteers) act as intermediaries – or system navigators - who match clients/callers with the necessary combination of human services that will address the individual’s needs.

The process is more than just providing a telephone number or an address. See the two examples at the bottom of the page.

 It involves:

  • - Active listening skills
  • - Non-judgemental attitude
  • - Providing options to services, based on prioritizing client’s needs
  • - Excellent search – and research – skills
  • - Extensive knowledge of resources


There are 6 over-arching principles within the information and referral process:

      1. Every person has the right to free, personalized information, which enables him/her to access services and resources.
      2. Information must be unbiased and integrated to present the full range of available options
      3. Information must be accurate, up to date and presented in a manner that assists people to be knowledgeable users and consumers of community services
      4. Information about community services must be relevant and must be adapted to the changing needs of people in the community
      5. Information must be presented in a simple, non-judgmental, non-threatening, non-patronizing manner, directed to people and their needs
      6. Confidentiality must be ensured


Example #1:


Q: Caller has a 3 yr old who requires child care on the north side of the community.

A: Caller provided with ministry-approved child care facilities that accept 3 year olds, and are located in their neighbourhood, plus other services just outside those boundaries, and a non-profit service which provides child care withint the caregivers home.


Example #2:


Q: Caller needs help obtaining a wheelchair for her spouse who has suddenly fallen ill.

A: After obtaining a better understanding of the situation, a number of options, in order of priority, are recommended including:

  • Local organization which lends/leases wheelchairs as an interim step to improve the spouse’s mobility
  • Information about businesses which sell wheelchairs and other assistive aids
  • Information about government services which provide financial assistance, and how the local businesses can help with that application process
  • Ensuring that client is aware of the variety of health services available in community including home-based services and respite care
  • Caller is encouraged to utilize support of family and friends, and to call back at any time for additional information and referrals to other services based on changing needs