Geriatric Care Management – Enhancing Senior Life!

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by Tim Colling~First of all, let’s deal with the name itself, “Geriatric Care Management”.

To tell the truth, many of us don’t really like the term “Geriatric Care Management”. After all, why would clients want to be thought of as:

  • Geriatric?
  • Needing care?
  • Needing to be managed?

Nonetheless, the term is an industry standard and so for now we’ll stick with it. Perhaps some day we’ll find a better term for this profession. For now, we’ll forget about the name and talk about what it IS.

What Is Geriatric Care Management?

Geriatric Care Management (often referred to by its acronym, “GCM”) is a set of services performed by trained professionals, usually social workers or nurses. Those services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Assess the care needs of older adults and their families.
  2. Create care plans for the acquisition of services to take care of those needs, subject to agreement by family members or trusted advisors such as elder law attorneys or trustees.
  3. Implement the care plans.
  4. Advocate for clients when needed, which often occurs when other service providers or are unresponsive,
  5. Monitor the results and make changes as needed, and,
  6. Report as required to family, referral sources, and other authorized persons.

How Do Geriatric Care Management Cases Usually Begin?

The steps listed above sound very tidy and orderly. However, things almost never start out in such an orderly manner.

In fact, most GCM cases begin with some acute problem or crisis which requires immediate fixing and action…

…and that problem could have been anticipated and avoided if the family had already engaged a GCM to oversee the client’s well being and safety.

After the acute problem is solved, in most cases the family chooses to have the GCM continue to be involved to monitor the client’s status and needs on an ongoing basis.

Who Needs GCM Services?

Most GCM clients are older adults who live within the GCM’s service area and whose family or friends do not live nearby, or are not available to help for other reasons.

The family hires a GCM to act, in effect, as their local eyes and ears to ensure the senior’s well being. And, because the GCM is a usually a social worker or a nurse, those eyes and ears that are especially well qualified to do that job with the elderly clients they serve.

Should You Wait Until A Crisis Before Contacting A Geriatric Care Manager?

No! Many times, that is what families do, but, No!

When a situation reaches the crisis stage, it may be impossible to completely undo the damage that has been done. For example, it may be difficult or impossible to overcome or recover from for the effects of:

  1. Falls
  2. Inability to call for help when needed
  3. Changes in condition that are not detected promptly
  4. Theft by dishonest friends, family members or caregivers
  5. Accidents arising from driving when the person is no longer safe to drive

Even if the physical effects of some problems can be reversed, the emotional and financial consequences are often never completely overcome.

Therefore it is best to anticipate problems and avoid them or plan for them before they occur. This is exactly what we mean by “assessing care needs” and “creating a care plan”.

How is Geriatric Care Management Paid For?

Most GCMs charge for their services on an hourly fee basis. Usually, GCM services are privately paid for “out of pocket” by clients and their families, because they are not covered under health insurance or Medicare. In some cases, long-term care insurance policies may cover part of the cost of GCM services, but that is not always the case.

Summary

Professional GCM services can be a valuable source of help for both crisis resolution and for ensuring that the long-term care needs of older adults and their families are taken care of in a thoughtful and thorough manner. Professional care managers who are experienced and educated in the needs of older adults can help families anticipate and avoid breakdowns and minimize costs of care through needs assessment, planning and monitoring.

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About Tim Colling

Tim Colling has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries and has served in the past as a member of the statewide steering committee for the Home Care Aide Section of the California Association for Health Services At Home (“CAHSAH”). He is a Certified Public Accountant (licensed but not actively in practice), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. He has held the credential Care Manager Certified ("CMC") from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers, and has practiced actively as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager. Tim has worked as a CPA in Public Accounting, a corporate Chief Financial Officer for a chemical manufacturing company, and a software engineering manager for several private and public software companies, in addition to working as an eldercare manager, in-home caregiver agency administrator and professional geriatric care manager since 2003. Learn more about his in-home caregiving company at A Servant's Heart In-Home Care

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