According to the website www.caremanagers.org, a Geriatric Care Manager is defined as “… a health and human services specialist who acts as a guide, advocate, and resource for families caring for older relatives and persons with disabilities.”
But what does this really mean? For many of us who have never had to navigate the confusing world of senior care, hiring a Geriatric Care Manager is like using an experienced travel agent when touring to a foreign land. A GCM is an expert in the field of all public and private services for seniors. They are able to provide consultation, assessment, and care coordination.
As with a travel agent, you will want someone who is well educated, someone who knows and understands the ‘lay of the land’ and someone who you can trust to lead you in the right direction. Most Geriatric Care Managers have a background in social work, nursing, psychology, family counseling, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or gerontology.
One unique factor of Geriatric Case Manager is that they follow a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice- that ensures clients they are being served by someone who is professional and will respect their privacy and honor their values and wishes. They are accountable, ethical and well educated in their field.
Some of the benefits of using one are (from http://www.caremanagers.org)
- Personalized and compassionate service — focusing on the individual’s wants and needs.
- Accessibility — care is typically available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Continuity of care management – communications are coordinated between family members, doctors and other professionals, and service providers.
- Cost containment — inappropriate placements, duplication of services, and unnecessary hospitalizations are avoided.
- Quality control – care management services follow NAPGCM’S Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
One local GCM is Jan Pitzer, of Aging Network Resources (206-935-3020). She has been in the industry for over 20 years. Originally, a social worker in nursing homes, she soon discovered there was a growing need for private consultation services to guide seniors through this confusing process.
With her existing relationship with trust officers in local banks, she was able to build a solid practice providing services for seniors in the Seattle/ King county area. Jan says that through building relationships in the industry and by meeting regularly with other care managers, she is able to maintain her expert knowledge in the field.
Another local expert is Liz Taylor. She was an award winning columnist for the Seattle Times and “one of Washington State’s first geriatric care managers, she consults one-on-one with families and individuals, guiding them in making wise decisions in all the many ways to take control as they age — aging deliberately.”. Check out her website.
Hiring a resource specialist for seniors AND their families, especially those who live far away and aren’t able to help locally, is extremely helpful.