As the number of Care Managers across the country continues to grow, we at AZA are thrilled to be part of such a thriving profession. Because we have been in business for almost 20 years, we have witnessed many changes and trends in the industry. Most recently, we are noticing that our consumers are more educated about the field of Care Management and are asking better questions. As a result, we have put together some tips for family members and fellow professionals about how to be a savvy consumer when shopping for a high quality care manager.
The following are areas we suggest considering:
Experience / Credentials
Check the credentials of the care manager you are considering hiring. Care managers have diverse experience, education and backgrounds. Often a good care manager is one that has both an advanced degree and several years of experience in care management.
Many care managers are licensed in their state in specific fields such as nursing or social work. If appropriate, make sure they are a member of their basic professional organization.
Make sure the care manager is a certified (not associate) member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and that the membership is in good standing. As of 2010, we are required, as certified members of the National Association, to carry one of the following certifications: CMC, CCM, C-ASWCM or C-SWCM. Please check the National website for more information about specific certifications and requirements.
You should request references and inquire about interview processes.
The care manager should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you should have access to their cell phone number or answering service. You should also be aware of other members of their team — nurses they may work with or their support staff — in case you have a question and can’t wait for the care manager to return your call.
Make sure you know all the ins and outs of the care manager’s billing policy. Some care managers bill more for phone calls or visits on the weekends, holidays or after normal business hours. Make sure you are aware of how and for what you will be billed.
An important part of working with the client and their families is chemistry. Be sure you get along with and like the individual you are considering hiring.
Areas of Expertise
You should find out if the care manager has an area of expertise. You will want to hire someone who regularly handles clients with similar needs and issues.
Continuing Education / Supervision
The care manager should be engaging in continuing education on issues of aging as well as their area of expertise. Each care manager is required to complete a certain number of hours each year in which he/she is being supervised by another care manager. You will want to make sure both this education and supervision is taking place.
You want to hire a care manager that is not receiving incentives from placing their clients in certain facilities or with particular providers. The advice you get from a care manager should be related to the care needs of the client, not to the care manager’s relationship with third party providers. Receiving this kind of kickback is not only a conflict of interest, but is also a violation of our National Association’s standards of practice.
When evaluating the potential working relationship with a care manager, you should make sure that the care manager has put in place methods of getting feedback from their customers. A care manager should have a system for allowing their customers to give anonymous feedback about their performance, and you should ask what this system is and how it works.
Type of Practice
Care managers generally fall into two categories: sole practitioners who work for themselves or those who work for a practice with two or more care managers. There are advantages to working with both types of practitioners. A sole practitioner may have less formal legal contracts and paperwork to be signed. When you contact a sole practitioner, your communication from the start is with the person you will be working with and it may be easier to evaluate the potential working relationship. A care manager who works for a larger practice, on the other hand, will often have opportunity to work as part of a team and will have the benefit of other team member’s experience as well as their own. Regardless of the type of practice, the experience and knowledge of the care manager around the specific issues the family is dealing with are of utmost importance.
The Elderly: Finding a Good Geriatric Care Manager, August 6th, 2009
Questions to Ask – National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers