Caring for Someone You Love?
10 Critical Steps to Hire the Best Care Manager for Your Unique Situation
By Deborah Johnson, RN, CCM
If you’re reading this now, you are exploring your family’s need for professional help.
- Maybe you are trying to care for mom, dad or a spouse and balance your own needs.
- You may have recognized you are only able to do so much without compromising your own family, time from work or time for yourself.
- Perhaps you have not been sure who to call to work through the maze of doctors, nurses, hospitals, medications and other needs.
Care Managers help you to make recommendations that are custom tailored to deal with the issues you and your family face. They come to you. They sit down face-to-face with you, learn about your needs and then assemble seemingly disjointed information into a coherent plan so you can make decisions unique to your situation.
However…Care Managers are NOT all the Same
Choosing the right Care Manager is critical because…
- You want to know that you can communicate your confidential information to a person you can trust.
- You’re going to be sharing personal information regarding your finances, insurance, social issues and health care problems.
- They will be in your home.
- During office visits with doctors they will be your voice.
To relieve any guilt or frustration you need to know that your Care Manager can step in when you cannot and handle any situation with love and understanding.
Choosing the Right Care Manager
How do you find that person? What makes for a good fit? What questions do you ask when you have them on the phone or in an interview?
What follows are 10 key areas you must consider before you select a Care Manager. This is not the last word. However, these points reflect more than 40 years of study, observation and experience about what works and does not work in the rapidly changing field of Care Management. It will get you pointed in the right direction.
Once you have gathered up a list of Care Managers…
1) Ask for their qualifications. It will most likely come in the form of a resume. If they do not have a resume steer clear. They may be hiding something or giving you information that can’t be verified.
2) Study their resume. Education is important however the length of time they’ve been practicing their profession is critical. At least 15 Years of professional experience gives you greater certainty that they have the background to handle most health issues that your family may experience.
3) The politics of medicine. You do not want to have someone fresh out of school and here’s why. Your Care Manager needs to know the “politics” of medicine. This means understanding the motivations behind the recommendations any particular provider may be giving you. You want to avoid a provider who is financially motivated to prescribe or recommend treatments that are unnecessary or under prescribe based on a patients age. Why? They could steer the treatment down a path that is not in the best interest of your loved one.
4) Which health professional should you choose? A Care Manager is a sub-specialty of many health professions such as occupational therapy, social worker, registered nurse and others. You want a professional who is registered with a state regulatory board. I personally recommend a Registered Nurse. They have the broad range of knowledge that’s necessary to deal with social and health issues. A Registered Nurse has passed a statewide examination which ensures their ability to perform in their profession.
5) Ask to see their license. Keep a copy of it. Look at their credentials. Go to the .gov site for your state and look for the health care registration board. This is where their license will be listed under their name or license number. It will be documented if they have any problems that have caused the board to pull or suspend their license. Find out if they have documented complaints, disciplinary action or suspension of the license on this Internet site. In these cases your family may be at risk.
6) Do they have a well connected network? Without a good network a Care Manager is no better than opening the Yellow Pages and hoping for the best. An experienced Care Manager will have a network of people she’s worked with in the past. Out of this network she will know how to find the best providers for your given situation. It’s like having a family member who’s “in the business.”
7) Interview them face-to-face.
After checking their credentials and experience the next and very important step; is to interview them personally. Be willing to pay for their time to sit with you. This is a small investment and a critical step. You are the best judge as to whether their personality would work well with you and your loved one.
a. Let go of any intimidation. Trust your judgment.
b. Would this person be accepted and listened to by your family member?
c. Do they appear professional, empathetic?
8. Could they make a stand? Sometimes Care Managers need to work with difficult situations and make sure that the client gets what they want and deserve. They need to oversee the care that is being given and change providers if necessary, to find the best fit. Assess whether this Care Manager has the assertiveness to stand up for the rights and best interests of your loved one. Could she advocate politely and clearly when needed?
9. Ask about associations with professional organizations. Care Managers at the forefront of their profession are usually members of professional organizations such as:
a. Case Manager’s Society of America (CMSA.org)
b. National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (www.caremanager.org) or similar local organizations.
These organizations provide ongoing education and are a standard for truly professional Case Managers.
10. Is there a difference between a Care Manager and a Case Manager? No. These titles are interchangeable. The main question to ask is, “What is your specialty?” You want a professional who can deal with the issues you need help with.
I wish you well in your search. We would love to be of further support and invite you to call and discuss your present situation. Joy of Case Management may not be the answer you’re looking for. However, we would be happy to refer you to an organization that may give you the support you and your family deserves.