Case management is a task that is often taken for granted by those that have never taken a part in the practice. Case managers are nurses, social workers, certified nurse assistants, and often student interns. There are even situations in which case management does not require previous knowledge or education. Those that accept positions in case management may have studied nursing, medicine, social work, sociology, criminology, and so on. All of theses fields of study are different however there is the constant need for case management in all departments. Case management is not required but it is a service that is offered for those with mental health conditions, developmental disabilities, victims of domestic violence, older citizens seeking services, physical impairments and for minors in foster care.
For those that are currently considering case management as a career or those that are currently practicing here are a few suggestions to help the position run a little more smoothly. However it is important to keep in mind that your experience and possible stress level is contingent upon the type of case management you practice, in-service training, as well as your supervision.
First, adopt a plan of organization. Invest in file folders, 3 ring binders, highlighters and other office accessories to organize your clients in a manner that is more readily available. Personalize your case management system that works for you. Everyone is different but you can take hints and suggestions from co workers or your case management supervisor. Your office may already have these supplies. If your case management office does not ask if they will reimburse you for any items you have purchased.
Second, always use a planner and/or desk calendar. Whenever you make an appointment write it down immediately in your planner or on your calendar. When you are planning appointments on the same day make sure you allow time in between each case management appointment for various unexpected events. Also keep track of staff meetings, in service training, and out of office events such as case management conferences. You may also want to consider bringing your calendar or planner with you to case management appointments in the event you need to schedule another appointment with your client on the spot. Planning ahead will save you time in the future especially if you would have need to phone the client once you returned to your office.
Third, practice stress management. There are surely going to be times where you get overwhelmed in case management. For this reason, it is important to keep stress management techniques in practice. Do not wait until you are overwhelmed to take vacation days, personal time or sick days to re-gather yourself. Adopt a hobby that allows you to relax and breathe such as aerobics, yoga, or a massage therapy session. Remember to vent when necessary and keep your client’s confidentiality in mind. It is best to vent with you co-workers or supervisor to protect confidentiality in case management.
Fourth, always document what you do. Write down the tasks and phone calls you complete with and for a client. If you called Ms Betty five times in one day there should be documentation for each phone call made and details about the conversation. Remember if you make a mistake cross it out and initial the mistake. Scribbles and white out is not permitted in case notes it is suspicious of falsification.
Fifth, develop a service plan. On some separate form or document indicate your client’s needs and potential solutions. If you are case manager for the elder population, make note of the physical disabilities and any thought problems of your client. What types of services are available in your community or state to assist this individual? Are there family members that are willing to contribute? Is an assisted living facility an option? Are there mental, emotional or physical health issues that need to be addressed? Does the client need a homemaker? Is foster grandparenting an option for one feeling socially isolated?
The last thing I will mention is knowledge of resources. Knowing the resources in your community will take some time. It is wise for each case management unit regardless of the type to have a resource area in the office to seek resources for services the clients may need. You will not have all the answers or solutions to the clients’ problems but you can always brainstorm with coworkers and supervisors to assist.
Case management is not simple however it is often over looked by those that have not worked in the field or held a case management position. The case management world can be very draining and stressful if it is not management properly or supervision is lacking. Often the lack of employees creates stress in most situations. The demand for case management is getting higher especially since the baby boomers are hitting sixty years of age. Also, the number of children in foster care requiring ongoing services contributes to this need for case management services. Always remember you are not alone and do not be too proud or afraid to ask for assistance. Take advantage of the resources available to you whether it is a book, video, superior or colleague.