Planning and coordinating the care of older adults and staying inclusive of patients suffering from physical or mental impairments can be an uphill battle for patients and their loved ones. Geriatric Care Management is the solution.
Geriatric Care Management is a program that helps physicians, care teams, and relatives plan and coordinate the care of aging patients. Through this program, patients receive the help they need to live a life of quality, independence, and to stay on track with their healthcare needs and treatments.
The age at which a person is considered to be in the geriatric age group is 65 years old. Geriatric care will continue to be a necessary resource for families, as it is estimated that:
As the population ages, healthcare systems must advance to prepare for and support the intricacies of caring for older adults. It may be difficult to know when the time has come to seek out the specialized expertise of a geriatric care manager or how to help your patients and their loved ones navigate the change.
When do you need geriatric Care Management?
It is probably evident when the time has come to seek help in caring for an elder. There are signs indicating there is a need for geriatric Care Management and thankfully, there are options to fit the individual’s specific care needs.
Some key indicators that it’s time to seek out a geriatric Care Management plan are:
- Things aren’t working like they used to
Your patient is struggling with the day-to-day activities that were once second-nature.
- Bills aren’t getting paid
The electricity and/or water bills were forgotten about and your patient is living without lights or hot water.
- Lack of self-care
Your patient is forgetting to wash themselves, their clothes, or their family has reported that the patient’s home is unkempt.
- Limited support
There may be no one physically close enough to your patient’s home to take on the role of caregiver.
- Worsening medical conditions
- Your patient may have medical conditions that require more expert care than they can manage on their own.
- Concern for safety
There may be an increased concern for a patient’s safety and ability to live alone.
- Need for independence
You know your patient needs help, but they are refusing to relinquish their independence.
- Resource fatigue
Is your patient or their family exhausted by trying to find the right resources, handle financial responsibilities, or navigate the complexities of finding the proper care?
If any of these points have resonated with your current experience, it’s time to implement geriatric Care Management, and allow industry specialists to help your patient receive the treatment they need.
How a geriatric care manager can help
You don’t have to do it alone. When utilizing geriatric Care Management, you have access to geriatric care managers — licensed nurses or social workers specializing in geriatric care.
Geriatric care managers act as “professional relatives” whose main responsibility is ensuring your patient receives the best care possible, improving their quality of life, and allowing them to retain their independence.
These highly qualified licensed professionals take on the responsibility of managing your patient’s care. They help to determine the right care plan and educate the patient and their family on available resources.
What are the benefits of geriatric Care Management?
Geriatric care managers serve many purposes, including acting as a guide to help navigate the complex Care Management process. If you were climbing a mountain for the first time, you’d want a guide with you, one who was an expert in navigating the difficult terrain.
Geriatric care managers can aid in leading difficult discussions and tackling complex issues, acting as a “professional buffer” during complicated or emotional situations involving your patient and their family. Having an impartial and knowledgeable third party is helpful in the decision-making process, removing familial bias and easing conflict.
The geriatric care manager is more than a home aid. They offer personalized care options and ensure there is a continuity of Care Management. Geriatric care managers assist in creating and implementing a Care Management plan tailored to your patient’s individual medical needs, as well as helping them maintain their pride and independence. Their roles help relieve familial caregivers, which minimizes the emotional, physical, and mental stress that geriatric care can cause.
What qualifications do GCMs need?
Geriatric care managers (GCM) are licensed professionals — usually nurses or geriatric-specialty social workers — who are highly qualified to handle the Care Management of their patients.
To become a GCM, an individual must have completed a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare-related field, with many GCMs opting to complete a master’s degree as well; most providers prefer a Master’s in Gerontology. This ensures your geriatric care manager has the right educational foundation to not only navigate the Care Management process, but to fundamentally understand the full scientific scope of the aging process.
A comprehensive educational background is not the only requirement, however. All GCMs must complete, at minimum, 120 hours of post-graduate or post-specialty degree training within the geriatric Care Management areas.
The educational requirements coupled with the extensive hands-on training results in a certified geriatric care manager who is an expert in geriatric care, case management, financial planning, patient assessment and communication, geriatric facility placement and impediments, gerontology, and all standard methodologies and practices regarding geriatric Care Management.
What services do they offer? What are their responsibilities?
Now that we’ve covered the geriatric care manager’s qualifications, let’s dive into what they can actually offer your patient.
Geriatric care is a complex, deeply personal planning process that is unique to each individual. Care managers offer a comprehensive array of services to each of their clients. It starts with a thorough assessment of the individual care needs of your patient through home visits. By visiting the patient in their home, a care manager is able to evaluate current in-home care needs, address emotional concerns, and guide families through the creation of short-term and long-term care plans.
Once the geriatric care manager creates a personalized care plan, they can then take on the responsibility of hiring any needed personnel, such as in-home caregivers or medical professionals. They will also take on the task of facilitating medical services, including handling medical appointments and necessary transportation.
The GCM can also accompany your patient to their various medical appointments, offering support in explaining the care plan to the patient and their family. Their extensive knowledge and training serve as a comfort to older patients, especially those with complex health issues. With the GCM’s guidance, your patient and their family can better understand the diagnosis and treatment plan. Their expertise and skilled communication can help answer your patient’s important questions and explain the complexities of their condition.
If the difficult decision is made to place a patient in an assisted living facility or senior housing center, geriatric care managers will handle finding the best options and arranging the transition. Trying to find the right resources, programs, and social services that your older patient is eligible for can seem like an insurmountable task to them or their family, but geriatric care managers take that burden off their shoulders; they help identify what programs and services would be most beneficial and appropriate. GCMs can also assist in making referrals and handling communication for the financial, legal, or medical professionals your patient may need.
Geriatric Care Management and care managers can help your patient when distance is their biggest hurdle. When an elder doesn’t have family nearby, arranging for their care can add an even tougher layer of stress. GCMs offer their services so that distance doesn’t matter. They will act as a liason, keeping your patient’s family constantly informed on the patient’s progress, care plan, and medical updates. A geriatric care manager will also check in on your patient on a regular basis, whether they are in their own home or at a care facility, ensuring their care is being handled appropriately.
Questions to ask when hiring geriatric Care Management help
While their qualifications, experience, and services offered are the solutions to your patient’s most pressing problems, it’s expected that your patients will have additional questions or concerns when it comes to geriatric Care Management. The care of your patient is your highest priority, and we understand that.
In order to evaluate their resources, qualifications, longevity, initial and continuing costs, methods, flexibility and references, here are some key questions you can recommend your patient asks a potential geriatric care manager:
- Do you have direct experience in specializing with XYZ patients?
If your loved one suffers from dementia or rheumatoid arthritis, ask if they have experience handling patient care for that specific condition.
- Do you specialize in working through health crisis scenarios?
- Are you a certified geriatric care manager?
It might also help to ask if they have any additional professional licenses.
- Can you provide references from past clients?
Client references can help you better understand a potential geriatric care manager’s professional experience and whether they would be a good fit for your family.
- Can you provide your fee structure and cost estimates, inclusive of initial assessment cost?
Ask for this in writing as well, as a reference when deciding between care managers, and/or for documentation for future use. It’s important to know the full scope of what their service will cost — from assessment and initial service cost to ongoing costs.
- How long have you been providing geriatric care services?
You can verify this through the service and their provided references.
- Are you available at any time in case of emergency?
Ensure they have flexibility to be available to your family member at their most critical moments, especially if you live far away.
- Do you provide home care services?
This will allow you to verify whether the GCM’s resources and services align with your family member’s needs or not.
- How do you communicate information with my family and elderly loved one?
Asking about their communication methods is critical in ensuring you receive the level of communication you need in the way that works best for you.
Asking questions is always a critical part of any decision-making process, and geriatric Care Management professionals expect families to have many questions about their loved one’s care. Before meeting with a care manager, have your patient and their family take the time to consider what the most important parts of their loved one’s care are, and what information will best help them make this important decision.
What insurance options cover geriatric care?
While many insurance options do not cover geriatric Care Management, there are a few options your patients can seek out for financial assistance. If your patient is already enrolled in a long-term care insurance plan, their carrier may be able to pay for their Care Management.
Here are some insurance options that can help your patient pay for their care:
- Traditional insurance
- Medigap insurance
- Life insurance
- VA health benefits
It’s also helpful to have your patient check with their employer or employee benefit representative, as more and more employers are offering employee assistance programs that can cover some (or all) of their Care Management costs. When the care of an older patient is the responsibility of a family member, they can often request a significant time off of work to tend to their loved one. Employers want to ease that burden — and limit the amount of time spent away from work — so they have started offering helpful assistance programs that provide paid relief for out-of-pocket care costs.
How to help your patient find geriatric Care Management
There are several resources available to aid your patient in finding the right local geriatric care manager.
It’s important to remind your patient to ask for credentials when interviewing potential care managers, and to always make sure they are a licensed and certified geriatric care manager.
Here are a few organizations that can help you find a care manager:
- Aging Care
- Eldercare Locator
- Aging Life Care Association
How Welkin can help
Utilizing Care Management software can help you and your staff create a seamless, flexible, and accessible care plan for your older patients, ensuring each individual patient’s needs are met and their progress tracked. With easily customizable dashboards, automated communication, and at-a-glance patient overviews, staying informed and in touch is a breeze.
Welkin’s Care Management platform was designed with care coordination in mind. Our platform offers innovative features that allow you to design patient-centered programs that include home care and the input of your older patient and their loved ones.
Is Geriatric Care Management your patient’s next step?
Caring for an older patient doesn’t have to be difficult, stressful, or keep family up at night with worry. Through geriatric Care Management, your patient can receive the quality care they deserve with the help and guidance of industry professionals. These qualified and licensed care managers can help your patient and their family navigate the complexities of geriatric care and create an individualized care plan that will meet their needs.
Geriatric Care Management is with your patient every step of the way, placing their health, safety, and happiness as their top priority. Your patient deserves to live their life in comfort and to be treated with the utmost care and respect.
To learn more about other types of Care Management and how they can help your healthcare system improve outcomes, visit our Care Management page.