Ontario 211

Ontario 211: A resource for patients and family doctors

Health related questions are already the #1 request of this award-winning 24/7 telephone resource. Can you put it to work helping your patients?

211 graphic 2211 is a 3-digit phone and online service helping Ontarians connect to the complete range of government and community-based health and social services. Calls are answered 24/7 by professional information and referral specialists who are trained to assess caller needs, and to refer callers to the most appropriate resources. 

211’s resource database contains more than 60,000 records, making it the most comprehensive human services database in the province.  Combined with the demographic and caller needs information collected through our calls, 211 provides individuals, agencies and planners with rich data on the supply and demand for human services in Ontario.  

211 is for everyone.  While the majority of our calls come from priority populations such as seniors, low-income families and newcomers, 211 also serves many Ontarians who might be financially secure, but face a need for mental health resources, need home care for an aging parent, or are seeking support for an addiction.  Front-line workers also call 211 to find information for their clients, and close to 40% of callers hear about 211 through a friend or “trusted intermediary”.
 
How does 211 help physicians?
211 can help guide patients through the health care options that are available to them in the community, such as walk-in clinics, pharmacies that offer flu shots, how to apply for OHIP benefits, where to access Community Health Centres and other health-related services.  In addition, 211 can refer patients to programs that can help with the broader social determinants of health – education, financial stability, social inclusion and family support.  
211 specialists are professionally certified in information and referral, and are a compassionate voice on the end of the phone that can help patients navigate the complex system of health and social services.  211 supports the sector by allowing physicians and other front-line workers to focus on their area of expertise, while ensuring the patient gets access to the additional help they need.
  • How do I refer a patient to 211?

    While it is always best to have a patient call 211 directly so that our specialists can ask the right questions to assess the needs and find appropriate referrals, there are times when physicians might want to call on behalf of a patient.  In either case, 211 will ask some demographic-based questions to help determine eligibility for certain programs, and based on information provided, will make recommendations for the most appropriate services in the patient’s community.  The 211 specialist will also explain how to access the program (locations, accessibility, registration process, what information might be required at the program site, languages spoken, and financial assistance available).
  • How is 211 different from Community Care Access Centre (CCAC)?

    In 2001, the CRTC designated the three digit dialing code 2-1-1 for community information and referral. 211’s mandate is to provide people with the information they need to connect to appropriate services in their community.  It is an easy-to-remember access point for many specialized services, including CCAC’s health-focused services.  There is no wrong door for patients to access information and help, and the two organizations often refer calls to each other when broader community referrals are required, or when specialized CCAC supports are needed.
  • Why do people call 211?

    The reasons for calling 211 are as diverse as the population of Ontario – and so are the programs and services available.  From employment assistance, to education programs, to financial and housing programs, to home support programs for seniors and everything in between, 211 provides information and referrals to more than 60,000 programs and services available throughout the province.  The list below shows the top caller needs from 2013, based on more than 500,000 calls answered by 211.
  • Who calls 211?

    211 is for everyone.  While the majority of our calls come from priority populations such as seniors, low-income families and newcomers, 211 also serves many Ontarians who might be financially secure, but face a need for mental health resources, need home care for an aging parent, or are seeking support for an addiction.  Front-line workers also call 211 to find information for their clients, and close to 40% of callers hear about 211 through a friend or “trusted intermediary”.

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  • Does 211 follow-up with callers?

    211 is a confidential service, therefore the majority of callers do not provide contact information for follow-up.  Sometimes, callers might need help accessing programs, or might need a reminder to follow-up on the referrals made.  With their consent, a small percentage of callers are contacted at a later date to ensure that they have successfully connected with the recommended agencies or programs.  From time to time, 211 also provides advocacy in situations where the caller may not have the capacity to make the next call on their own.
  • Where can I learn more about 211?

    Visit our website at www.211ontario.ca to search for services, watch our video, or read our Annual Report.  If you want to know what happens when people call 211, pick up the phone any time of day or night and speak with an Information & Referral specialist, or ask for a 211 presentation in your community.