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Building Your Team: Case and Care Managers

When faced with helping a loved one make health decisions about their ongoing care, people can benefit by turning to an informed third party advocate, like a case or care manager.

“Case managers are affiliated with a particular institution such as a hospital and they are concerned with a certain piece of a person’s care, such as discharge,” said Suzanne Modigliani, LIC SW, CMC, a geriatric care manager. “Care managers are involved with the full spectrum of care and are not affiliated with any institution. As our clients are elderly or disabled we’re advocating for how we can bring about a difference in their well-being.”

National Case Management Week is the second week of October and is an opportunity for people to recognize a case manager who has helped them or their family.

Seen It All Before

According to Ms. Modigliani, there are practical aspects to providing care—especially for elders with some degree of disability—and a care manager can help save valuable time since they already have many of the resources at their fingertips.

“I had a client say, ‘I don’t even know what questions to ask and here you have all the solutions’,” she said. “The family really needs someone to talk to about all of the changes in their lives when someone needs care and the implications of those changes. A care manager can be a witness and really be there for them.”

It’s hard to put a price on the value of that knowledgeable and objective third party when a family is having an emotional time making changes.

“People often feel overwhelmed when there is a sudden medical crisis,” said Ms. Modigliani. “When adult sons or daughters visit their parents they might realize how much things are changing when they see that food is spoiling in the kitchen, bills are unpaid, and things are more disorganized around the house. Even if they do live in the same town, it’s that typical Sandwich Generation where they are working full-time and raising their own children and can’t visit often, but then when they do they see the changes that need to be addressed.”

If an elder loved one is in need of additional assistance to continue living independently in their own home, it can be overwhelming to determine the different ways to support them.

“We can look at the whole caregiving situation,” Ms. Modigliani said of care managers. “Whether that includes family, neighbors, or a medical team, we are able to coordinate and relay information.”

All for One

The goal of working with a case manager or care manager is to all communicate about what is best for the person in need of care. “There is a very close and ongoing relationship between the family and the care manager,” said Ms. Modigliani. “Every time I visit, the family asks me questions and then there are questions that come up when they are not there that I can bring up.”

Ms. Modigliani said that she frequently refers families to home care companies, and eases them into the idea of professional caregivers. “I might say, I think this amount of care is optimal and they will come back with, ‘We don’t feel like paying for that,” or ‘We don’t need overnight care’,” she explained. “They will start with a small amount of caregiving in the home, and I will give them my opinion based on my assessment.”

Ms. Modigliani pointed out there sometimes there are things a care manager can take care of that a caregiver cannot. A care manager can also offer input on whether a caregiver is a good match with a client.

“People often say ‘peace of mind’ and I think what that means is knowing that somebody has their back,” she said. “We can be there to troubleshoot and act in an efficient manner on their behalf.”
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