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Learning to Think Like a Care Manager

Have you ever wished you could just pick up the phone and call someone who would take stock of your situation, help you access services, coordinate your loved one’s care and more? You’re definitely not alone. There are people who provide these services and they are called case or care managers. Care managers are usually nurses or social workers, and although it is likely that you are neither, you can still learn to think like a care manager and make things somewhat easier for yourself and your care recipient.

Professional care managers are paid to coordinate care; they don’t directly provide it. Care managers reach out to others to find the answers to their clients’ needs. Family caregivers directly provide care and most have difficulty asking for help. That presents a dilemma. Sometimes, managing caregiving requires that you move out of your comfort zone. Nevertheless, if you can put together a management plan both you and your care recipient will be better off.

A care manager will:

  • Gather and coordinate information from healthcare providers
  • Assess your care recipient and the home environment
  • Research available public and/or private services and resources
  • Communicate between all parties to keep information up-to-date and services appropriate and effective.

How can you act like a care manager? Step 1 is making a list of the circumstances of your caregiving life including:

  • Your care recipient’s ability to function independently, both physically and cognitively
  • The status of the care recipient’s health and complexity of their care
  • The availability of family and/or friends to form a support network to help provide care
  • The physical environment: Is it accessible or can it be adapted at reasonable cost?
  • Your other responsibilities — at work, at home, and in the community
  • Your own health and physical abilities
  • Your financial resources including the existence of legal and end-of-life documents

A review of this list should help you highlight the immediate issues that should to be tackled first. Then a plan can be made regarding how best to address them, and who is going to do what.