Call Answering Process


All calls are answered by BACP accredited Counsellors 24/7 365 days of the year.
In the event that a Counsellor or an Information Specialist is not available, one of Care first’s Employee Assistance Service Advisers will take the call and advise the caller the service is 24/7 and they can try again later that day, arrange for a call back on the same day, unless the employee prefers to specify a different time/day for the call. Clients should be aware that the nature of counselling calls can be emotional and unpredictable. Every effort will be made to achieve call backs at the appointed time. On occasion the appointed counsellor maybe delayed by an extended call with a previous client. Whilst this may delay a call back, it will not impact the time available to the client with that counsellor.
95% of Care first calls are answered with no need for a call back.

The employee will be informed in the initial call that Care first will only make one attempt to contact them. Care first will also ask for their consent to leave a message, if a message facility is available. Care first always return calls from a withheld number and the employee will be informed of this.
Care first are unable to speak with anyone if they are driving and the counsellor will advise the individual of this.

Clinical Assessments


The first telephone contact with a Care first BACP accredited counsellor will provide immediate support in the moment. Further follow up calls will allow a counsellor to conduct a clinical assessment using HADS (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Typically, an assessment call lasts in the region of 50 minutes but this will vary depending on the complexity of the reason for the call. The client should ensure they are in an environment where they can speak freely and in confidence.

The assessment of the issue/problem is a structured process between the Counsellor and the client formed by the counsellor when reviewing the full extent of the problem. This clinical assessment process ensures a thorough understanding of the client’s priorities, concerns and issues.
Care first clinical assessment is based around listening to the client’s issues and the use of careful prompt questions to explore all aspects and impacts of the issues. From this assessment, Care first can ensure that ongoing help is appropriate and clearly focussed to support and guide the individual in the next steps.

Based on the clinical assessment the counsellor will offer a series of options they feel are appropriate to the client’s issue/problem. From those options the client can choose how they wish to proceed. The Care first counsellor ensures the client has realistically examined the extent of the problem and is fully aware of the choice and implications of the options available.

Reasons why Care first support may not be appropriate:

  • The counsellor’s clinical assessment shows that the employee needs longer term or specialist support and cannot be clinically supported based on the EAP short term model
  • The employee is receiving support from another source
  • The client is not at that time in a position either physical or emotionally to fully engage with a counsellor to start the solution focussed therapy

Additionally, all counsellors have access to the Care first Information Database which provides useful information and resources that may be available nationwide and/or locally to the client.

Requests for counsellors of specific age, race, sexuality, gender, disability or culture will be considered and offered subject to clinical consideration.

The client is entitled to up to 8 face to face counselling sessions per issue or up to 8 telephone counselling sessions per issue as well a 7-module online CBT. These sessions will be determined by the clinical assessment carried out by the counsellor in the first instance with a view to determine if it is clinically appropriate to provide support to an individual. For example, initially four sessions of therapy may be recommended and then extended if required.

If at the end of the 8 sessions the counsellor feels it appropriate for additional sessions, they will refer back to Care first who will contact Sodexo in the first instance to approach the organisation for authorisation of funding for the additional sessions. As the EAP is based on a short-term therapy model this won’t happen often.