Learning to Think Like a Care Manager

Have you ever wished you could just pick up the phone and call someone who could take stock of your caregiving situation, help you access services, and coordinate your loved one’s care? In the US, there are people called care managers who provide these services. In the UK, you may find that the National Health Service has assigned you a “Key Worker”. What are care managers called where you live?

 

Care managers are usually nurses or social workers whose job it is to coordinate care; they don’t directly provide it. Care managers reach out to others to find the answers to your needs. Care managers:
 

  • Gather and coordinate information from healthcare providers.

  • Assess the patient and the home environment.

  • Research available public and private services and resources.

  • Communicate between all parties to keep information up-to-date and services appropriate and effective.

 

Although you are probably not a nurse or social worker yourself, you can still learn to think like a care manager. And thinking like a care manager can make things a little easier both for you and your loved one. How can you think like a care manager? To begin with, make a list of the circumstances of your caregiving life including:
 

  • Your loved one's ability to function independently, both physically and cognitively.

  • The status of the patient's health and complexity of their care.

  • Are there medical devices in the home?

  • Are the family caregivers trained in their use and maintenance?

  • Is the physical environment accessible? Can it be adapted at reasonable cost? Can it accommodate the medical devices need for uninterrupted power?

  • Your other responsibilities at work, at home, and in the community.

  • Your own health and physical abilities.

  • Your financial resourcesLegal documents allowing you to make financial decisions and health care decisions.

  • The availability of family and/or friends to form a support network to help provide care.

 

A care manager would review this list to help you highlight the immediate issues that need to be tackled first. When you think like a care manager, you, too, can sort through your many responsibilities and get a handle on it. That way, you will know better what areas you need help with when reach out for the resources you need. A specific request of “I need help with X” will always get much better results than a general panicked cry of “Help me!” Family caregivers directly provide care and most have difficulty asking for help. Sometimes, managing caregiving requires that you move out of your comfort zone. But if you can think like a care manager and put together a management plan both you and your care recipient will be better off.