A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a professional whose education and work experience has trained them to provide services to, and manage/coordinate care for, older adults, their families and caregivers. This month Elder Voice focuses on Geriatric Care Managers and Geriatric Care Management.
GCMs have been described as a professional family member, a counsellor, an advocate, a seniors housing advisor, a care coordinator,a family mediator, a coach, a health care navigator and even a seniors’ valet. In fact, the role of a GCM can encompass all of those services, depending on what is needed. Services which they do not provide they can source, arrange, and/ or oversee for clients if necessary.
GCMs are retained by seniors themselves or by family members and caregivers. They also are hired by businesses to provide consultation to employees and clients or by other professionals such as lawyers, accountants and financial advisors for their clients.
People hire a GCM for a variety of reasons. For example they :
- are living on their own and they want the assurance that they have someone they can call on in an emergency
- are family members who live out of town and want someone to assess and/or monitor their relative on an ongoing basis, and monitor the care or services that are being provided through government or other agencies either in home or in a seniors residence
- are burning out due to caregiving,
- are confused about availability and scope of government services and want to be clear about to what they are entitled,
- need help dealing with other family members
- need help advocating for themselves or a family member in a care face facility, hospital, and with government services
- want advice on moving or housing
- need help locating,evaluating, and negotiating for services
- need emotional support around grief, loss, aging,chronic illness or family concerns.
- have an employee whom they recognize as having concerns about aging or caregiving and whose work may be being impacted upon
- have a client they are concerned about
There are a number of companies that have what they call a Care Manager but whose role is actually quite limited.There are also many people and companies who are providing care management services who are not trained or qualified to do so. Professional GCMs should come from a health care background, generally Nursing, Social Work, Occupational Therapy or Gerontology.They should be licensed or certified in their respective professions, belong to their respective professional associations as well as to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.
Ideally, in addition to their training, a qualified Professional GCM will have work experience in geriatrics in a wide range of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, or community care. They should also have experience working with professionals such as geriatricians, occupational and physio therapists, nurses, social workers, and recreation therapists. This interaction will have given them a broad understanding of all of the issues and concerns that occur during aging. It will also give them an understanding of the limits of their knowledge and capabilities, and help them know when to bring in other professionals to help with assessments, treatment, and care planning.
Recognition of Geriatric Care Managers as a separate category of professionals started over 30 years ago in the U.S. However in Canada, Professional GCMs who are trained, qualified, and experienced are rare. Diamond Geriatrics was one of the pioneers and is proud to be the oldest provider of Geriatric Care Management in Western Canada. Call us for a free phone consultation to discuss how we can help you, a family member, or a client.
Geriatric Care Management: How It Works
Geriatric Care Management as provided by a a GCM or a Care Management agency is a four part process consisting of assessment, care planning, implementation and monitoring of a care plan, and reviewing/revising the care plan and services. The process is a dynamic one, meaning services often need to change as the needs and circumstances of the client changes.
During the assessment, the GCM gathers all relevant information about an individual that may relate to the concern for which they were contacted. This includes social and medical background, current medical issues, medications,mobility, ability to perform personal care, physical and psychological functioning. It includes developing an understanding of the family and support network and a knowledge of what other professionals and systems are involved. A complete assessment also looks at a client’s finances and resources to understand how those are or might impact on their needs.
Assessments may also take the form of a consultation interview with family or caregivers to answer questions about seniors housing, long term care, dementia, how to deal with other family members, or other issues. One or two sessions may be sufficient to provide the guidance or direction necessary.
The assessment results in an understanding of “the problem” as well as other issues and strengths that are relevant. It may answer questions such as should someone move to seniors housing, how to help with issues related to dementia, what to do about “other” family members, what education and skills a caregiver may need, what resources are missing that might be useful, or what further investigations could be beneficial. The assessment can also help Seniors or family members to anticipate what is coming up and plan for the future.
The assessment leads to a care plan which, when implemented, can help meet identified deficits, provide safety and solve problems, It is the “road map” of actions that are required to provide proper care and effective caregiving.
GCMs can also help implement and monitor care plans or coach a caregiver on how to do so. The GCM can arrange all services, accompany a client to appointments and report back to family, plan for and assist in their transition to a seniors residence or care home, visit as often as necessary to ensure quality of care and service and go to care conferences for family members. They also often initiate contact with physicians or other professionals when they identify a concern.The GCM ensures that the client receives the best care and services possible and to which they are entitled, and that they are not being neglected or falling through the cracks.
Review and revision of a care plan is essential in care management because a client’s needs are dynamic and changing. An illness can get worse or go in remission, finances may change, behaviours and abilities often change. This means that services will have to change. A GCM works with all concerned to help revise care plans and services when and as needed.
Geriatric Care Managers bring to their clients and industry the training and experience to help them make informed and sound decisions, find their way through the system, resolve family concerns, and help families and seniors obtain the best care possible. They have an understanding and knowledge about the system, medical and social/psychological issues, and resources that help people solve problems. A GCM can do for you in a few days what might take you weeks to do on your own. Moreover, with a GCM you can go back to being just a family member, employer or professional — the role you are are most comfortable with and the one you do best.
How to Choose an Eldercare Professional
In Canada the provision of elder care services is at the “wild west ” stage in terms of regulation. Anyone can call themselves a Geriatric Care Manager or Consultant or set up a seniors consulting service. How do you choose for yourself, your family member, or your company or clients?
Examine carefully the company and providers you are considering. Look at their backgrounds, training, experience and certifications. Is their certification from a one day or three day course or is it through university or post graduate training? What have they actually done in terms of direct care and services? What are their references? With how many people have they worked ?
Below is a checklist for assessing care providers. We’ve completed it for Diamond Geriatrics but we encourage you to contact us if you require more information. Whatever you do, the most important thing is to take the time you need to feel confident in the person or company you are hiring.