How to Find a Care Manager

Tips to finding a geriatric-care manager for your loved one.

Anya Martin

McClatchy Tribune Newspapers

February 16, 2010


In the past, finding a geriatric-care manager was very much through word-of-mouth referrals. Asking a hospital discharge planner, psychiatrist or elder law attorney for suggestions in your community is still one good way to start, according to Joyce Gray, a Philadelphia-based certified geriatric-care manager who serves on the board of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, the industry's trade association.

Another option is to consult NAPGCM's nationwide directory. As of January 1, 2010, all NAPGCM members are required to have at least one of four professional certifications: Care Manager Certified (CMC), Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM) and/or Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM).

One red flag would be care managers who say they got into the field after helping their own relative but don't have much other experience or have not committed the time to get professional training, Gray said.

You should also be sure to ask for references, and most care managers will offer a free 20- to 30-minute telephone interview so families can get a sense of how they work, their fee schedule and whether their personality is a good match, she added.

"It's important to have a sense of trust right from the start that you can work with this person and that your mother, father, aunt, uncle can work with them, too," Gray said.

More questions to ask include whether the geriatric-care manager is part of a solo or group practice and who covers for them if they are away, she added. Are they available 24 hours a day and on weekends, because that is when many falls and other health crises occur?

Finally, don't hire anyone who accepts financial rewards from nursing homes, home health agencies or other providers. Such practices are directly in conflict with NAPGCM's ethical standards and suggest that the geriatric-care manager may not have a senior's best interests at heart, Gray said.