Geriatric Care Manager: A Resource for Guardians

Guest Contributor: Kate Granigan, LICSW, C-ASWCM, Certified Geriatric Care Manager

As a Guardian, taking care of a senior adult can be an overwhelming task. There may be times when you might feel unprepared to make the necessary decisions that are required of you, or times when you are not able to be present to ensure that necessary care or services are provided to the senior. Kate Granigan, a Certified Geriatric Care Manager, offers information on the role of a Professional Geriatric Care Manager as a trusted advisor who can be a helpful resource to a family or professional guardian.

1. What is a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM)?

A Professional Geriatric Care Manager is a professional in the field of aging and disability, most often licensed as a Social Worker or Nurse.  These professionals can be hired as an independent resource and advocate to assist in navigating through all of the information and decisions related to aging.  A Professional Care Manager can assist with guiding you, as a family member and/or guardian through the hospital system, health insurance questions, rehabilitation needs, and home, as well as provide a support to all individuals during an often overwhelming time.

2. How could a GCM help me as a guardian of an older or disabled adult?

A GCM, with expertise in working with aging and/or disabled adults, can act as an independent consultant to assist and guide the process as you evaluate and arrange for needs of an individual under the care of a guardian.  This can include housing, medical, social and emotional, and any other ongoing needs to ensure the best possible care and outcome. Often times a guardian is responsible for making discussions regarding areas that may be unfamiliar and a GCM can be a consultant, offering assessments, reports, and other information to make the decisions easier.

3. Who pays for the GCM?

GCM services are most commonly paid for privately, much like you would a financial or legal advisor.  In some cases, Long Term Care Insurance may cover some of the cost.  Many people hire a GCM to assist with developing a plan for the needs of a loved one, and often continue to utilize the GCM as an Advocate and Consultant as changes and needs arise.  This proactive approach can often reduce the likelihood of costly and often unnecessary drain on resources due to crisis.

4. I am a guardian for a family member out of state.  How would I locate someone to help?

If you are responsible for caring for the needs of an individual out of the area or even in another state, a GCM can be an invaluable resource for you.  The GCM can be your eyes and  and monitor and report back to you any needs or concerns if you can not be there yourself.  To locate a GCM you can visit the website for the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at www.caremanager.org.

5. How do I begin the process of hiring a GCM?

Hiring a GCM, like hiring any professional, deserves due diligence to be sure you are getting what you expect, and have the best chance for a strong and successful working relationship.  Not all Care Managers are created equal so it is important to understand prior to hiring, the areas of expertise, level of experience and educational level of the person you will be working with.  The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, as of January 2010, now requires certification to classify oneself as a Certified Care Manager as a member.  This advance in the organization was meant to help consumers find care managers with a consistent and documented level of qualifications and experience.  To learn more about certification and to find a member that fits your needs, visit www.caremanager.org.

6. What questions should I ask?

There are a number of important questions to ask prior to making a choice in hiring a Professional Care Manager.  It is important to ask about experience and areas of expertise, price structure and fees, extent of coverage including emergency and night and weekend coverage, especially if you live at a distance.  It is appropriate to ask for recommendations form individuals and professionals that have had experience working with the Care Manager.  Remember, this is an individual that you may need to rely on in difficult times or crisis, so doing your homework in the beginning to be sure it is a good match will reduce any surprises later when you need them the most.

7. Where can I learn more about this resource?

Professional Geriatric Care Management is becoming a valuable resource and gaining recognition in publications such as the NY Times, Business Weekly, and Wall Street Journal and others.  You can visit the web site of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers which offers articles and news clips in the News Room section, as well as information on hiring a Care Manager, and the opportunity to locate a care a manger near you by zip code.

Kate Granigan, MSW, LICSW, C-ASWCM, is the Vice President of Overlook C.A.R.E., a non-profit Geriatric Care Management organization affiliated with the Overlook VNA and Masonic Health Care System of Massachusetts.  Ms. Granigan has over 15 years of experience in geriatrics and is a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, and the immediate past president of the New England Chapter.  She can be reached at 1-781-588-0296, or by email at kgranigan@overlook-mass.org.

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