Question: A friend of mine often compliments the care manager from your agency. She says he is an immense help in allowing her to remain living in her own home. Can you tell me a little about what a care manager does?
Answer: I am always pleased when the good work of our care managers is noticed in any of the 28 cities and towns our agency serves. Care managers’ work is at the heart of our mission. They help individuals navigate the vast array of aging services that can sometimes seem confusing and or even daunting. They then assist seniors and others in accessing the services and support they need to live safely at home. Care managers act as the go-to link between our agency and a wide variety of programs, vendors, and resources. They present options, but consumers make the decisions about accepting any proposed services. The agency and care managers aid them in taking charge of their lives.
Care managers get involved when the individuals themselves, their friends, or family members contact our information and referral department to request assistance. The care manager then schedules a home visit to evaluate the adult’s physical and emotional needs, health, living environment, and eligibility for services. If the person meets the state age, need, and financial guidelines, the care manager proposes a service plan that is customized specifically for that individual. The care manager explains the details and benefits of this plan, but the consumer has the ultimate say about whether to accept these proposed services.
Care managers may include some of the following home care services as part of this plan:
Homemaker – A person who helps seniors with daily tasks such as shopping, laundry, meal preparation, and light housekeeping
Personal Care Homemaker – Assists with bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting. A registered nurse develops this portion of the care plan and monitors the Personal Care Homemaker’s performance.
Chore services – Does heavier housework and heavier laundry (for example, a home that has not been cleaned for an extended time)
Meals on Meals – A nutritious, hot meal delivered to the person’s home Monday through Friday and up to two frozen meals to eat each weekend in some cases
Companionship – Visits to seniors who are isolated or unable to leave their homes
Our agency does not hire the workers who perform services in consumers’ homes. Instead, we contract with local agencies who specialize in recruiting and training such personnel. However, our care managers continually monitor these services to ensure things are going well, that care plans are meeting ongoing needs. Care managers do this through home visits, telephone calls, and collateral discussions that assess changes in health, medications, finances, family support, and the immediate physical environment. They provide a vital link to helping seniors remain in their homes for as long as possible.
This work is rewarding and challenging. It requires compassion, dedication, and attention to detail. Imagine performing an intake visit: stepping into a home, establishing a sense of trust and rapport as quickly as possible, and then asking important but highly sensitive questions about health, money matters, family involvement, and more.
As time goes by, care managers can become like friends to consumers. Some care managers have worked at our agency for decades and support consumers as they experience the full range of life’s joys and setbacks. Says one care manager, “This work is incredibly rewarding. I’m changing lives for the better on a daily basis. I couldn’t feel more ‘essential’ in my job.”
We are currently hiring care managers and many other key positions, and are committed to hiring diverse and bilingual/bicultural staff. If you are interested in work that makes a difference to area seniors and want to be part of a growing, innovative nonprofit organization, please contact our Human Resources department by calling 1-800-892-0890 or visit our website at www.esmv.org.
Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can also call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email email@example.com. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.