I like to think I have a way with words, but boy do I get tongue-tied when I’m asked, “what exactly do you do, Wendy?”
Private geriatric case management is still a new concept in Canada, although it’s getting more traction with our aging population and rising demands on family caregivers.
Simply put, family caregivers and seniors use our services to ensure seniors are receiving the right type of support at the right time.
We provide advice and help navigating a health-care crisis or age-related transition.
We also offer ongoing support and management to co-ordinate the broad range of services a senior may need.
We are the “keystone” – the service that connects and supports clients to the various, but related, parts of eldercare.
We can help when your mom is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and needs more help to stay in her home safely but you don’t know what needs to be done or where to find the information you need. Or when your dad suffers a stroke and doesn’t have other family available to care for him when he leaves hospital.
Sometimes you just need someone to support you in your new role of caregiver – including how to initiate uncomfortable conversations with aging parents, how to navigate the complex social and health care systems, where to find help and how to avoid burnout.
Another question that comes my way is, “how are you different than a public case manager?”
A public case manager works on behalf of the local health authority and their mandate, whereas families or seniors hire us directly to work solely on their behalf. BC Health Authorities provide many specialized senior and geriatric programs to the community at no cost. It is the first place we start when working with clients.
Each community offers different levels of support depending on their own funding ratio. Whenever possible, publicly funded elder care services will be identified and accessed through your Geriatric Care Manager.
However, private geriatric case managers can be more creative with solutions and are able to support families and seniors with a broader range of services. We assist family caregivers with numerous issues, including:
•Ongoing case management, observation and assessment of seniors
•Acting as a liaison to oversee the care and support for seniors with out-of-town families; assisting in system navigation
•Accompanying clients on medical appointments to ensure their needs are communicated clearly and medical directions are understood
•Screening, arranging and monitoring in-home help and other non-medical services and support
•Helping seniors transition during a move – to or from medical facilities, independent living facility or a long-term care home
•Organizing and maintaining key support documentation, such as emergency contact lists, medical and functional health, power of attorney, advanced directives, etc.
Helping with applications for benefits or entitlements
•Referring and coordinating community resources, transportation and services
Essentially, I’m here to help seniors and the people caring for them. If you have any questions, I’m here to help.
Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs regularly in the Comox Valley Record.