Care Managers provide professional assistance for older adults with complex care needs and/or their families in accessing, arranging and coordinating the package of services needed to enable the older adult to remain at home. If institutional care becomes necessary, they can help locate an appropriate facility and help to get your family member the care they need.
A Care Manager may be trained in any of a number of fields related to long-term care, including but not limited to, nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care. Some provide family or individual therapy, financial management, conservatorship or guardianship assistance, and/or hands-on caregiving services.
They work to identify problems and offer solutions. They also shift part of the caregiving burden from the caregiver to the professional.
- Are your caregiving problems becoming larger and more complex than you can comfortably manage?
- Are you able to figure out what resources are available locally and access them successfully?
- Are you able to provide the desired level of supervision and attention needed to address your family member's needs?
- Are your caregiving responsibilities adversely affecting your health and emotional well-being?
A Care Manager can help.
According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, a Care Manager:
- Conducts care-planning assessments to identify problems and to provide solutions.
- Screens, arranges, and monitors in-home help or other services.
- Provides short- or long-term assistance for caregivers living near or far away.
- Reviews financial, legal, or medical issues and offers referrals to geriatric specialists.
- Provides crisis intervention.
- Acts as a liaison to families at a distance, overseeing care, and quickly alerting families to problems.
- Assists with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted care home, or nursing home.
- Provides consumer education and advocacy.
- Offers counseling and support.
Care Managers are trained professionals who will provide services that you pay for. Be sure to ask appropriate questions before entering into an agreement for service. Questions could include experience, years in the business, training, certifications, etc. Also, feel free to ask for references. Treat the hiring experience just as you would hiring any other in-home professional to work with your family member.
Many Care Managers are independent contractors. That means their way of charging and what they offer is not necessarily standard. Ask questions.
Find out how often you will be billed. Some Care Managers bill weekly, some bill monthly, some bill upon completion of work. Find out if there is a charge for each service or if all services are billed at an hourly rate or by the completion of a task or job. How do they make referrals? How can you be assured of the competency of referred agencies? How will costs for referral agencies be handled? Is time an issue for you? Will you receive face-to-face time with the Manager or will most of the work be done over the phone? How long will it take to complete certain tasks? Spell everything out and don't hesitate to get clarification as you go along and as you think of more questions.
Ask about out-of-pocket expenses, which may include charges for mileage, care giving supplies, long-distance telephone calls, etc. Find out if there will be any other incidental costs. Put it in writing.
Ask about these matters at the initial conference and ask for them in writing, so there will be no surprises. If you don’t understand, ask again. If you need additional clarification, say so. It is very important that you feel comfortable regarding your financial obligations. The agreement can be a letter or a formal contract. It should spell out what services the Care Manager will perform for you, fees, expenses, expectations, time frames (if appropriate), etc.
Be sure to discuss and make sure you have all questions answered before proceeding with an agreement for services. You should expect a written agreement including fees before the commencement of services.
Please note that some states offer care management services through Older American's Act funding. Check with your Area Agency on Aging to see if this service is offered in your area. If it is, it may be available on a voluntary contribution basis. (Note: This service is not currently available)
Geriatric care managers who are members of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) are committed to adhering to the NAPGCM Pledge of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
If you choose to hire a Care Manager who is not a member of the national association, read the ethics and standards before hiring. Make sure you feel comfortable that the person you are hiring will treat you and your family member with respect and dignity and will deal with you in an honest manner.
There are several ways to find a Care Manager.
First, check with your local Area Agency on Aging. This service may be available through the Older American's Act on a voluntary contribution basis. If it is not, try the online yellow pages or try the National Association of Geriatric Care Managers.
|Find Your Area Agency on Aging|
|Find Area Agencies on Aging in NC|
|Find a Care Manager Search (NAGCM)|
|What is the Older American's Act?|
|Online Yellow Pages|