A Care Manager’s View of Home Care
CareGrade.com did an interview with professional care manager Liz Salston, LSW to find out what a professional care manager looks for in a home care agency.
CG -What do you, as a care manager, look for in a home care agency?
LS - I look for an agency that offers a comprehensive service, not just companionship. I want the client to be able to have medication assistance and hands on care from a home health aide should they need it. I also look for supervision from an RN.
Other things I look for include having consistency in terms of coverage, and a good relationship with the care manager, which includes feed back and quick responses to phone calls. Lastly, I want to see that an agency does a good job of screening the home and the client’s needs in order to help make the right match with a caregiver.
CG - What problems do you most often encounter?
LS - I have had some issues with the professionalism of agencies when communicating information about their clients. On a broader scale, making good matches between the client and caregiver is a big problem. Agencies often fall short when taking all of the facts about a client in to account. They need to look at more than just the physical condition and consider things such as the client’s interests, quirks and personality. They also need to consider the caregiver’s needs. For example, an agency should be careful not to send a person with allergies into a house with pets they are allergic to.
Response time when filling cases, especially for call outs and emergency fill-ins tends to be another problem. An agency should be staffed well enough that it does not have gaps in coverage.
CG - What questions should a family ask when speaking with an agency and trying to make a choice?
LS - People searching for care should ask the agency…
What happens if it is not a good match?
How quickly can you make a change if it is needed?
Do you have enough coverage if a person calls out?
CG - How long does it usually take to get service started?
LS - A good agency should be able to get a new case started within 48 hours. Sometimes they have to start with a temp until they can secure more permanent placement.
CG - What are the most difficult cases to fill?
LS – I find cases that are short term, less than two weeks, can be a challenge to get filled. It takes just as much work and costs the agency just as much to staff one of these cases as it does for a long term case. The agencies are just not as motivated. What they fail to recognize is that is that short term placements often result in long term cases over time. Agencies need to take this possibility into account.
Other cases I find hard to get staffed are when there is a racial bias. Unfortunately it is out there. I attempt to teach my clients and their families’ lessons in tolerance and acceptance when engaging home care services. Clients need to understand that the majority of workers in this field come from minority groups and that their priority should be the quality of care provided. Personal biases need to be put aside and relationship building will occur over time if given a chance.
Liz Salston is a social worker with 22 years of experience in the field of services for older adults. She has served as Director of Recreation and Social Services at the Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence and as a social worker at the Central New Jersey Jewish Home for the Aged in Somerset. She has run several socialization and respite groups at the Jewish Family Service of Southern Middlesex County and has worked as a social worker in HUD senior housing.
Liz holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and Judaic Studies, a Master of Social Work, as well as a Master of Arts in Contemporary Jewish History.
She is a licensed social worker in the state of New Jersey, a member of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, Inc., and the National Association of Social Workers.
You may reach Liz at www.salstoneldercare.com (732) 238-1775