Caregivers (whether new to the role or seasoned with lots of practice) often seem to be unaware of the extensive help that is available to them in the form of professional case management. Without the help of a case manager, a caregiver may feel lost and frustrated as he/she tries to discover resources and fresh ideas using trial and error or word of mouth.
Whether we call the service case management, care management, care coordination, care planning, or by some other name, the person providing the service aims to make life easier for caregivers, loved ones, and their families. A professional case manager is able to lend a much-needed hand by offering expertise in the following areas:
- Needs assessment
- Communication of vital information for informed decision-making
- Formulating a plan of care that is appropriate to the need
- Serving as liaison and advocate, coordinating and monitoring the plan of care for the duration of need
Working with a case manager is very much a team approach that is designed to facilitate the best possible outcomes—not only for the care recipient, but for the entire family! This effort requires open communication. At the first meeting, the case manager will need to collect a lot of data, but it will be equally important for you to create your own list of questions to ask. Here are a few to start:
- What does the initial assessment cover (e.g. Is it a physical and mental assessment, and what sort of information or documents will you need to see at that meeting)?
- Can you provide a list of the important considerations and questions I should ask when picking a home care provider (or adult day service, assisted living, or nursing facility, as applicable) for my loved one?
- How do you determine which providers you will recommend for referral? What is your method for accomplishing quality checks on these providers?
- What is your preferred method of communicating with me? During which hours am I able to reach you, if needed?
- How often can I expect to receive updates from you?
- How often will you be seeing my loved one face-to-face?
- Are you available for accompanying my loved one to doctor appointments when I am unavailable to do so?
- Are you able to meet with the whole family for conflict resolution when we have disagreements about the plan of care?
- How many cases do you handle at one time?
- What can you tell me about the different types of supports for caregivers, including respite, education, support groups, coaching, emotional supports, etc.?
We know that no family or individual can fully anticipate and prepare in advance for all of the details and unique challenges that can arise over the course of the caregiving journey—and this fact can make the navigation quite difficult—but having a professional case manager can certainly change the scenario.