By Nancy Tillery Walker, MPH, BA, CMC
A Professional Geriatric Care Manager specializes in assisting older people and their families with long term care arrangements. GCM’s have advanced degrees in gerontology, nursing, social work, and counseling. They are experienced in assessing, planning, coordinating, monitoring, and delivering services to the elderly and their families. Care management embraces a comprehensive range of services and the role of the care manager is multifaceted.
Professional Geriatric Care Managers:
* Supplement the care of the family
* Act as surrogate family for those clients without family
* Represent families where distance or time separate clients from family
* Assist clients to achieve improved quality of life and insure continuity of care with maximum dignity, privacy, and independence while providing caregivers with professional guidance.
The Geriatric Care Manager serves the older population that may:
* Need multiple services or already have services that need monitoring
* Contemplate a change of residence or placement in a care facility
* Need adequate and dependable informal support system
* Be overwhelmed by complex family dynamics or family in absentia
* Live alone
* Be homebound due to physical or mental limitations
* Exhibit poor judgment
* Be unable to access care
* Require personal advocacy, counseling, and support
Professional competence requires knowledge, experience and skill on the part of the practitioner. The expertise or technology that a care manager employs is a unique combination of both clinical and management capabilities, ultimately needed for the coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of the planned care. The assessment process requires clinical skills and judgment. Advocacy and problem-solving skills help the process of care management. Knowledge of community resources and means of accessing them are essential to initiating services.
The Geriatric Care Manager provides personalization of services, autonomy, greater flexibility, and long term relationships with clients and families.
Information and referrals can be provided by calling or writing the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. This organization promotes the highest standards of practice. Membership is awarded to those who are experienced in the delivery of services. Those who will use the services of care management should require that the care manager be educated and licensed and preferably have membership in professional organizations.
Why would an older adult need a Geriatric Care Manager?
The American Health Care System can offer more than any other in the world if you know how to make it work for you. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of what benefits they should be receiving, or how to interact with the system to obtain the best services for their situation. Especially in light of the changes HMOs have brought to our system, the average American often settles for services way below standard. Geriatric Care Managers know this system inside and out, and can advocate for their clients to receive the highest levels of care and the coverage that their insurance promises. GCMs can work with the “case managers” staffed by insurance companies, discharge planners in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities and with home care agencies to ensure that clients receive the care they need and deserve. GCMs ensure that the needs of the client are foremost, rather than the needs of the facility or provider.
How do Care Managers work with my client’s doctor and other professionals?
As the coordinators of care, private care managers work closely with every professional and para-professional involved with your elders health and well being. We interface with the home health nurse and aides who are involved, making sure that the plan of care is followed, and that the personal care is properly performed. We work closely with attorneys, financial planners and clergy, to see that all of the person’s needs are being met.
How are care managers an emerging service industry of the future?
Case Management grew like topsy from the 50′s on, when the spiraling cost of health care for the elderly and the mushrooming number of elders converged. The Federal Government sought to find home based alternatives at that point and a conglomerate of senior services arose from the community, state, and federal level. The problem of so-called “continuum of care” was a fragmented mess with no central point of entry. For the elder and his or her family it was similar to playing Monopoly with three different sets of rules and no idea where “GO” was. Public geriatric case management programs arose to help the hapless families and confused elders navigate through the convoluted maze of services. Private geriatric case management arrived when case managers took note that middle and upper class elders and their families needed and wanted the same guidance through the mystifying non-system and were happy to pay for the services.
If any Lifelines Network member would like to gain a better understanding of geriatric care management services, I encourage you to contact me with your questions. Visit my profile to obtain my contact information and you will find a wealth of information on my website.