What is the Role of a Geriatric Care Manager?
Posted May 16, 2017

A professional geriatric care manager in assisted living facilities is an invaluable member of a treatment team, well-versed and educated in various fields of human services, including social work, psychology, nursing, and human development, more specifically, aging. Don’t underestimate the value of these holistic practitioners and the invaluable role that they play in supporting seniors in assisted living facilities, under their charge in and around Hinsdale.  

Some important skills that a geriatric care manager brings to assisted living settings include:

Eclectic expertise.

Geriatric care managers bring a breadth of education and a fresh, holistic approach to healthcare for the senior clients that they serve. Most of these professionals have their Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) or Public Health Administration (MPH), which are both eclectic curriculums involving practical work experience and experiential learning. Some of the courses found in these programs include psychology, human development, sociology, and communication- all which find their way into assisted living facilities daily.

Assessment skills.

When a client moves in or out of an assisted living facility– or other type of residential setting- an assessment is completed. In this case, it is often completed by a geriatric care manager who has been able to observe progress notes, ADLs (activities of daily living), and the client on a regular basis. Admissions, transfers, and discharges are typically contingent on an accurate and insightful assessment done by a seasoned practitioner.

Problem solving.

Even the best-laid plans don’t always manifest as one would hope, which makes practical problem-solving skills integral. Being able to plan, and re-plan, for situations that arise in the senior’s situation is important in an effort to move clients forward in their care, treatment, or toward goals, such as autonomy or independent living. Planning and making accommodations for unexpected circumstances makes the geriatric care manager a bit of a magician, pulling something out of their sleeve when necessary.

Care coordination.

Care coordination is key in order to maintain services, line-up resources, and maintain communication with both formal and informal supports. Geriatric care managers often act as a go-between, voicing the wishes of the client and assisting families struggling to meet the needs of their elderly loved ones. This could include tasks such as lining up transportation to a medical appointment, taking the senior on a social outing, or facilitating a family meeting to discuss current levels of care.

Stress management.

Another pertinent charge of the geriatric care manager in an assisted living situation is to monitor and support the seniors served, which may include managing stress of the client, as well as those closest to them. Many things can cause stress among those that care about the aging parent or loved one, including change of providers, lack of resources, limited access, or simply the aging process, in general. A care manager can help to provide insight, offer practical solutions, and brainstorm coping strategies to move past and go forward.

Networking.

It’s a big world out there; think of the geriatric care manager as a navigator, of sorts, helping clients and their families traverse through resources, providers, and supports to find what is needed to help the senior thrive. Many areas have limited access to things that are needed, such as transportation or medical treatment and an effective care manager will be able to network and find what is needed, whenever possible, getting the necessary referrals and documentation to make it viable. This takes a lot of pressure off the client, as well as their loved ones, instilling a familial relationship rather than one of caregiver.

Ardent advocacy.

Another important duty of a geriatric care manager in assisted living facilities is advocacy, both on personal and community levels. This practitioner builds a trusting rapport with the client by advocating and vocalizing the consumer’s wishes and preferences; this same professional may advocate for legislation that protects the elderly from exploitation or abuse. Becoming an ardent advocate requires knowledge of the social issues facing seniors, as well as the available options, resources, and supports to help these individuals thrive and prosper as they age. Above all, the care manager stands behind the client, making choices in the consumer’s best interests, treating them with respect and honoring the senior’s autonomy above all else.
Geriatric care managers in assisted living facilities, including those in Hinsdale, are an invaluable member of a holistic team, dedicated to supporting and improving the life of the elderly. These practitioners wear many hats and serve as a liaison between the client, family, providers, and area resources; as such, these professionals are integral to effective care coordination for the seniors in their charge.

What is a Geriatric Social Work Specialist?

A Geriatric Social Work Specialist is an important piece of the senior care puzzle and especially helpful when utilized in assisted living facilities. They are licensed by the Department of Health in the state in which they work.

  • Education – The level of education needed may vary according to state and/or facility but a minimum of having a Bachelor’s Degree. They are specialized in working with the many facets of aging.
  • Team Skills – The Geriatric Social Work Specialist learns a specific set of skills that will compliment others in the facility working with the residents. These skills generally help the staff, healthcare advisers, healthcare workers, residents and family all “get on the same page” so to speak; ensuring that the overall care of the resident is being addressed.
  • Specialized Training – As a Geriatric Social Work Specialist they are trained specifically to work with those 65 and over, and/or those who may have dementia, Alzheimer’s and other health issues specific to aging. Another area they may specialize in can include mental health; which also encompasses dementia care but can include senior depression and more.
  • Continuing Aging Issues – They are specially trained in working with issues of aging which can include:
    • Counseling
    • Transitioning from assisted living Care to Long-Term Care
    • Transitioning from Long-Term Care to Hospice (if needed)
    • Liaison between client, family, facility, and healthcare specialists
  • Paperwork/Filing – As you may know, there is usually a lot of confusing paperwork that goes with everything involving aging and taking part in many programs offered. Your Geriatric Social Worker is well versed and usually quite experienced in what forms need filled out and how to fill them out in order to most likely to be accepted the first time through the system.
  • Resources – These specially trained social workers can help direct you, your loved one, and your family to valuable resources that may be needed throughout the aging process.
  • Counseling – There are a number of areas that can require geriatric counseling during aging. Counseling can begin with the resident to the family and even include any communication with the staff so that everyone is informed.
  • Hospice – There are times when one moves through assisted living care to hospice care in a fairly short time. During times like these the Geriatric Social Worker can help with obtaining hospice care, funeral preparation, and direction for legal issues.

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