What is Geriatric Care Management?
A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a healthcare professional who has adept knowledge of the senior healthcare industry and can help families cope with complex health issues surrounding their elderly loved one. Most Geriatric Care Managers have backgrounds as geriatricians, social workers, or licensed registered nurses. Care Managers play a vital role in the senior healthcare industry and are valued by both elderly patients and healthcare providers. Their main responsibilities are assessing an elderly individual’s health care situation, making recommendations on the level of care required, and connecting families with healthcare providers in the area. They are uniquely equipped to do this because of their connections to the senior care community, and expertise in bookkeeping and time management.
Being a GCM is usually a person's fulltime job. But like most other professionals these days, caregivers can wear multiple hats. Geriatricians, social workers, and registered nurses are the most common backgrounds for GCM’s, because these fields already know the industry and GCM may be a more appealing job. No situation is the same, so it works out that care managers have a variety of different skills and capabilities. Below are some topics you will want to consider, while researching GCM’s.
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Who Needs to Hire a Geriatric Care Manager?
Almost everyone can benefit from at least some assistance from a Geriatric Care Manager. Clients usually fit into two categories: temporary and continual services.
Temporary Services: Expertise comes with practice, and that's certainly the case with learning all the nuances of the senior care world. Figuring out what senior living community to put your loved one in, or whom to call about giving them a little extra care, can be daunting. GCM's already have experience in the legal documents and processes involved in transferring a loved one to a senior living community or hiring a home health aide. If you are just hiring a GCM for a short while, then almost all of the help you will be getting will be in consulting work. They can help you find the right situation for your loved one, at the best price, and take you all the way through the enrollment process.
Continual Clients: There are many people who are too busy to deal with the moving parts of caring for an elderly loved one on a regular basis. The complexity of knowing what forms are really necessary, when all the bills are due, and matching up appointments, can make one's head spin. If you can afford a Geriatric Care Manager to take care of all the details, it is often the best option.
What Relationship Should I have the Geriatric Care Manager?
Every situation is different, so you will need to find a GCM who will be a good match to your situation. Below are a few key points to consider when you are thinking about evaluating GCM's.
- Who talks to doctors and nursing homes, etc.?
- How much autonomy do you give the GCM? This boils down to how much you want to be a part of decision making.
- What level of decisions will you allow them to make without your explicit approval?
- How much does the GCM need to know about your personal financial situation?
- How do you pay them? Is there a cap for services?
- Transparency - It is important to require good book keeping by your GCM, even if you are not planning on reviewing all the details. Medical records all need to be kept, and expense sheets should be kept.
For clients only looking for temporary assistance from a GCM, it is essential to find one who will walk you through all the steps. Be prepared to devote a good portion of your time to working with the GCM (you have a lot to learn). You can always call them later on, as needed, in case something comes up you do not know how to deal with.
It is important that the GCM does not have a monopoly on information or power. This is the case if you start feeling you could never get find a replacement. At that point, schedule a meeting with the GCM and get yourself back in the loop. Tell the GCM on the phone the purpose of the meeting is to go over everything, so she has time to put her books in order (you are not the only client). If the GCM is not able to provide you with information regarding decision-making and expense histories, then it is probably time to find another one. The assistance GCM's provide is invaluable, but that does not mean it is unique just to the one you have chosen.