CARE Management vs CASE Management
By Martha E. F. Woofter, MA, CMC
Certified Care Manager
As a certified Care Manager living in Conroe and working in The Woodlands since 2013, I understand the confusion clients and their families have between Care Management and Case Management. Case Management has been around since the mid-nineteenth century and focuses on the medical needs of clients. Care Management is a relatively new profession in the health and medical field concentrating on ‘quality of life’.
In the last quarter of the twentieth century, we began to realize that extending our lifespan was not the only goal. We discovered the importance of quality of life. Happier people live longer. Care Management grew out of the trend toward focusing beyond the physical and medical needs to address our emotional and spiritual side.
Care Managers offer for the first time, a “team-based, patient-centered approach to living happier, healthier, more productive lives”. In contrast, Case Managers often work in rehabs administering and overseeing nurses and aides or in hospitals coordinating all discharges. They have no contact with the patient after they leave the facility.
Simultaneously with the establishment of the Care Management profession, nursing homes started transforming into homes. Assisted Living facilities were introduced in the 1980s. Many assisted living and memory care communities now allow pets and have elevated the food and living environments. Some are small, homey, and cozy. Others are elegant with gourmet food.
Important considerations are high quality food, beautiful surroundings, and with a choice of activities. Do you want a community with transportation to stores, group activities, or with walking paths for solitary communion with nature? Some communities are elegant, with a full apartment and gourmet food in the shared dining room. Others provide personal care, a private backyard, and food prepared by chefs in the residential kitchen.
Activities are not only available, they are encouraged. Senior Olympics, gardening and reading clubs, painting classes, happy hours, parties, performances, and group projects for charity donations have become the norm for independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities. Their comfortable room or apartment is also available for those who become overwhelmed by social engagement, allowing them solace to regroup and regain their energy.
As a Care Manager, I had been working with seniors personally as well as establishing and managing teams of caregivers, medical personnel, therapists, and when needed, hospice. As part of this, I taught clients and groups to paint. Sometimes, I worked with them to develop container gardens. Other times, I designed the landscaping for their house. We took trips together. I took them on drives or shopping. We attended concerts, the opera, and other performances.
I also discovered their favorite meals. For those with the interest and ability, I worked with them in the kitchen. Others preferred for me to do the cooking and baking while conversing. For a more sedentary day, recommending a good book or, in further stages, reading to them can be comforting.
While serving this population, I recognized a void in personal aid for finding a new living environment when it becomes necessary. To meet this need, I toured the elderly living communities in The Woodlands area and for several years have been helping people find new homes.
Care Management is so new that only this year did an online search provide a definition for it. Previous searches only brought up Case Management. If you are struggling to navigate the ever-changing needs of growing older, call or text me to help you pinpoint immediate and possible future needs and recommend resources.
1 Centers for healthcare strategies. Care management definition and framework (2007). http://www.chcs.org/resource/care-management-definition-and-framework/