A geriatric care manager is a health and human services specialist who helps families and professionals who are assisting seniors and others with chronic care needs. Geriatric care managers are trained and experienced in fields related to long-term care including, but not limited to, nursing, gerontology, social work and psychology with a specialized focus on issues relating to aging and elder care.

Care managers assist seniors and people with disabilities in living productive, fulfilling lives. In addition, the care manager is an experienced guide and resource for families and professionals who can benefit from the experience, expertise and support of a care manager.  Care managers have extensive knowledge about costs, quality and availability of services in their community and can connect you with the services right for you or your loved one.

Services provided by a geriatric care manager:

  • Personalized services based on the individual circumstances (e.g., conduct care planning assessments to identify problems and provide solutions)
  • Provide short- or long-term senior care assistance for local and long distance caregivers
  • Review financial, legal or medical issues and offer referrals to geriatric specialists
  • Provide crisis intervention
  • Act as a liaison to families at a distance by overseeing care and quickly alerting families to problems, which is especially important when families don’t live near their loved ones receiving care
  • Screen, arrange and monitor in-home help or other services
  • Assist with moving an older person to or from a retirement complex, assisted living setting or nursing home
  • Provide consumer education and advocacy
  • Offer senior care counseling and support

Benefits of care management services:

  • Personalized and compassionate services – focusing on individual’s wants and needs
  • Accessibility – care available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Continuity of care management – coordination and communication with family members, doctors and other professionals, and service providers
  • Cost containment – the care manager’s knowledge and expertise can help you avoid costly mistakes by carefully matching appropriate services to the person’s needs

Selecting a care manager:

There are many agencies that provide care coordination or geriatric care management. Ask the following questions when selecting an agency:

Staff Training and Qualifications

  • What are the staff members’ educational backgrounds and work experiences? How long have they been providing care management services?
  • What are their professional credentials and affiliations? Are they licensed or certified? If so, by whom? What are the licensing or certification requirements and criteria?
  • Are they a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM)? NAPGCM members meet requirements for education, experience, professional references and certification, and adhere to professional Standards of Practice and Pledge Ethics.

Agency Structure

  • Is the agency a freestanding care management agency that also provides other services and/or part of a health care network?
  • What are the referral relationships with other service providers?

Fee Structure

  • What are the rates? What is the fee structure?
  • Does the agency receive payments from other sources (e.g., placement or referral fees)?

Source: Miriam Oliensis-Torres, MSW, LCSW, CASWCM, Geriatric Support/Pathway Care