I believe geriatric nurse care management is changing and adapting to better suit the needs of elders and their families. In an ever increasing long term care market, the models of care delivery to the elderly and disabled have to keep pace with the increasing demands and higher expectations of a more educated health care consumer.
Elder care consumers have become quite savvy. The vast majority of them are baby boomers and adult children who are learning, many times through painful personal experience with family and friends, that our current “home care” models don’t fit the needs of their loved ones.
They are learning that many times one must hire their own team of experts and pay privately if they wish to obtain any quality and retain any control over their families care in a broken system. The rapid growth in the concierge model of primary care reflects this shift.
Geriatric care managers were concierge before concierge was cool! Once a profession and role that was considered somewhat obscure, “care managers” have become part of our health care vernacular and in policy lexicons at the highest national levels. In the largely private pay world of home and community based elder care, geriatric care managers are a bridge over troubled waters for those transitioning between multiple care settings.
While care management for elders and disabled individuals is unarguably a critical function it can also be costly. I believe geriatric care management must become less expensive and more accessible to the general public. With only 2,100 certified geriatric care managers in the whole country (recent citation from an interview with the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers), a tsunami of aging Americans needing expert advocates and care managers will not be able to find enough of these “special forces.”
I believe that geriatric care management organizations will have less emphasis on solo practitioners with higher degrees and more emphasis on interdisciplinary teams with tiered credentials to meet varied needs. It needs to become more of a multi-textured profession with different levels of expertise as well as price points. This will bring costs for a life changing service back down into what every day people can afford. Enlisting experienced and well-trained,but less credentialed RN’s, LVN’s and medical assistants is the answer when faced with the perfect elder care storm we have on the horizon.
There are many innovations to fill the growing need for professional elder care providers being discussed across the country. Dorland Health, which is a leading health care consulting group, has offered this very logic for training “community health workers” to fill this gap. I’ve been following the community health worker model for many years and while this idea has merit, I think there is no real substitute for expert nurses and/or social workers leading a care management team.
Over the last ten years I have developed one new model that has worked well for my company and has gained wide approval from clients and providers in the San Diego area. I would like to introduce you to our “assistant care management” program. Mindy Waldhauser is our assistant care manager, and is featured in the picture above. She is a medical assistant with years of experience working back office in various Palomar Pomerado and Arch Health doctors. Mindy has worked with Grace Care Management nurses and clients for over ten years now and is an invaluable member of our team.
By hiring an assistant care manager, clients get the benefit of working with a professional nurse care management team while spending less. Our clients find working with an assistant care manager to be great value for a very important service. Assistant care managers can perform many care management functions such as attending doctor’s office visits, communicating with physicians and the multiple health care team members to coordinate care.
Assistant care managers work closely with families and give support and direction to non-medical caregivers. Assistant care managers never act independently but always under the oversight and direction of their nurse care manager and other team members.
Please call us at Grace Care for more information on how a nurse care manager or an assistant care manager can help you and your loved ones. Our office number is (760) 789-9177. We are happy to provide a free consultation to discuss your care needs.