Working with a Care Manager
A positive and open relationship between a Geriatric Care Manager and a client is important to successful outcomes. The key is effective communication. The communication starts with asking the kinds of questions discussed here. Use the answers to the questions as a guide not only to the Geriatric Care Manager’s qualifications, but also as a way of determining whether you can comfortably work with this person.
If your concerns are not responded to professionally and personally, if you don’t like the answers to your questions, if you do not like the Geriatric Care Manager’s reaction to being asked all of your questions, or if you simply do not feel relaxed with him/her, you do not need to hire that person. Only if you are satisfied with the Geriatric Care Manager you have hired from the very start, will you trust him or her to do the best job for you.
If you take the time to make sure you are happy and compatible from the beginning, you can make this a productive experience, giving you peace of mind and your senior family member the highest quality of life and the best elder health care possible. You will thank yourself, and your Geriatric Care Manager will thank you.
Once you decide to hire a Geriatric Care Manager, ask that your engagement be put in writing. The writing can be a letter or a formal contract. It should spell out what services the Geriatric Care Manager will perform for you and what the fee and expense arrangements will be. Remember, even if your agreement remains oral and is not put into writing, you have made a contract and are responsible for all charges for work done by the Geriatric Care Manager and her/his staff.
After an agreement is made, the Geriatric Care Manager will most likely visit you for an “on-site assessment.” During the assessment, you will be asked to give the Geriatric Care Manager the reasons you are seeking help and to meet all the parties involved. It is especially helpful that you are prepared with all relevant information for the care of your family member or friend.
After you have discussed your situation, ask:
- What resources will it take to handle this situation?
- Are there any alternative courses of action?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative?
- Who will be working with you?
- How many professionals may be involved? What about off-hours and backup?
- How are fees computed?
- How are travel time and mileage handled?
- How are services terminated?
There are many different ways of charging fees and each Geriatric Care Manager works differently. You will need to know how often s/he bills. Some Geriatric Care Managers bill weekly, some bill monthly, some bill upon completion of work. Ask about these matters at the initial conference and ask for them in writing, so there will be no surprises. If you don’t understand, ask again. If you need clarification, say so. It is very important that you feel comfortable regarding your financial obligations.
In addition to fees, most Geriatric Care Managers will charge for out-of-pocket expenses, which may include charges for mileage, caregiving supplies, long-distance telephone calls, etc. Find out if there will be any other incidental costs.
Note: There may also be additional fees if outside professionals are called into the case. It is imperative that the Geriatric Care Manager receives approval to bring others in before the situation arises, if at all possible.
Be sure to discuss and make sure you have all questions answered before proceeding with an agreement for services. You should expect a written agreement including fees before the commencement of services.