A geriatric care manager (GCM) assists older persons and their families with long-term care arrangements, as well as short-term care solutions. A geriatric care manager has training in a variety of fields, such as gerontology, social work and nursing. They can be your liaison with other professionals, including:
- Health centers,
- Home care providers,
- Elder law attorneys,
- Financial advisors,
- Legal guardians,
- Clinical social workers, and
Working with this team, the geriatric care manager evaluates all aspects of an older person's life including legal, financial, nutritional, medical, and housing issues in arranging a care plan that meets the needs of the older person. The GCM is trained in the assessment, coordination, and monitoring of services for older adults and their families. He or she is knowledgeable about community resources and has the skills to match an individual's needs with appropriate agencies and services.
Services & Activities
The geriatric care manager can help a family during a crisis by arranging a plan of action to resolve a specific crisis or problem. A plan of action helps a family determine the services and care needed by the older person considering the overall goals of safety, security and independence. The GCM can assist families with long-distance care giving, as well as families who are nearby but who need help juggling the role of primary caregiver with other roles such as parent, breadwinner, or homemaker. They can offer families a one-time consultation, a long-term care plan or provide ongoing follow-up with an individual until times of sickness or death. A GCM can work as an independent consultant or be employed by a home care or community agency.
According to The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Geriatric Care Manager duties include:
- Identifying problems, eligibility for assistance, and need for services by conducting care plan assessments,
- Researching, arranging and monitoring in-home care and other services,
- Working to conserve a client's assets and avoid future problems by reviewing financial, legal, or medical concerns and suggesting referrals to geriatric specialists,
- Offering counseling and support, as well as providing crisis intervention,
- Acting as a liaison to families who provide long-distance care, ensuring that things are going well and alerting families to problems,
- Assisting with an older person's move to or from a retirement community, or nursing home, and
- Providing the older person and their family with consumer education and advocacy.
In addition to formal support, a GCM may offer informal support, such as escorting clients to doctor's appointments, friendly visits, and other nondescript services. Although these types of informal services are not expected of a geriatric care manager, it is not uncommon for a GCM to offer this support.
Training and Credentials
There are no specific licensing requirements for geriatric care managers, however most of these professionals have a graduate degree in nursing, gerontology or social work and have been licensed accordingly. The governing body of this profession, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, has adopted strict ethics and standards of practice for its members. In addition, all members are reviewed for educational and experience requirements prior to acceptance.
A geriatric care manager may become certified through the National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM), an organization dedicated to advancing the quality of care management services. NACCM validates an individual's competence through a standardized exam that tests skills, knowledge, and practice ethics.
Payment for Services
Most geriatric care managers charge an hourly rate for services that are usually paid, out-of-pocket, by the client. Rates range from $50 - $200 per hour. Some care management services, such as those offered by an Area Agency on Aging or other non-profit organization such as Jewish Family Services may be offered at a reduced cost or free of charge.
Medicare and Medicaid do not cover care management services. Most long-term care insurance carriers cover care management/ care coordination services.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) offers an inpatient and outpatient Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Program. This program is made up of a team of healthcare professionals who evaluate the older patient and create a plan of care, including treatment, rehabilitation, health promotion and social service interventions. Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website and the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care to find out more.
Choosing a Geriatric Care Manager
A good GCM will take time to get to know you and understand your situation, concerns, needs and wants. When searching for a geriatric care manager, ask questions and take notes. At your initial meeting discuss:
- Education, certification and credentials of the individual and the agency,
- Professional background and other licenses (i.e. LCSW, Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Nurse),
- Experience and philosophy of working with older adults,
- Specialized services, such as working with individuals with dementia or solving complicated financial problems,
- References from other families who have been helped by the GCM,
- Other services offered by the agency that may be helpful to you and your family,
- Fees: What are the fees? How does the geriatric care manager charge? By the hour or the job? Will you be charged for long distance phone calls or driving time? Most geriatric care managers offer several package rates. The GCM will help to determine the best package for you. You should be provided a description of services with associated fees in writing prior to the services starting.
- Communication: Does the GCM prefer to communicate information to you through the mail, telephone, or email? How can the geriatric care manager be reached in an emergency?
Finding a Geriatric Care Manager
You can locate a GCM working near you by using this website. Type in the keywords: care manager and your zipcode in the Quick Search. You may also contact the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (GCM) for referrals. You can write or call The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at 1604 N. Country Club Road, Tucson, AZ, 85716-3102. Phone: (520) 881-8008. Fax: (520) 325-7925.
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