If a loved one is in need of elder care advice or services, you may want to consider a Geriatric care manager (GCM).
A seasoned Geriatric care manager with experience can be extremely valuable to family members who are going through the process of helping care for an elderly family member, especially for the first time.
Just like a qualified financial planner or travel agent, someone with the knowledge and experience in their field of expertise can save their customers a lot of time and money simply by providing guidance and advice.
Let’s get into the details of how a GCM can help save you time and money, as well as peace of mind for you and your loved one.
Financial Benefits of a Geriatric Care Manager (herein “GCM”)
A GCM has a lot of experience dealing with the medical system and the applicable insurance coverage offered by Medicare and private Advantage Plans. They can provide guidance to ensure you are maximizing the benefits that are available via the insurance process. Making the right choices can save a lot of money on procedures and out of pocket costs.
In-Home Care Support
A GCM can help coordinate in-home medical care. Avoiding full time nursing home care with a well planned and coordinated in-home care program can provide a significant cost savings over a long term care facility and is also often the preferred choice for the elderly patient.
Home Living Assessment
A GCM can provide a review of the patient’s home living conditions and provide recommendations on alterations needed to help prevent falls and injuries. This can reduce the probability of an accident which reduces the risk of additional medical care, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, and the associated cost.
A Geriatric Care Manager can help coordinate the types and timing of care that is needed. By doing things in the right order and avoiding duplicating services, a GCM can save the patient and family a lot of time and money.
Remember that a seasoned GCM has seen lots of cases, which means that have the experience and knowledge of many different scenarios involving elderly patients. Many also have a medical background, such as nursing. This means that they can help champion proactive care that is more preventative in nature, which can help avoid unnecessary hospitalizations.
A GCM can also monitor medications to ensure that they are taken properly. This can avoid additional medical care, costs and complications that arise from taking improper medications, missing medication doses, or taking expired medications.
A GCM can be an advocate for the family and patient, helping to find cost effective solutions. They can negotiate with various service providers to get the most value for the services being performed. This would include home care, medical equipment needs, and other third party services. This can also include reviewing medical bills to ensure the charges are correct and valid given the insurance coverage.
Education of Options
A GCM can present the care giving options, strategies and resources available for the patient given their medical situation and needs. Many families are unaware of the options, strategies and resources available. Once armed with the information, the family can make a well informed decision for their loved one, which would include the cost element and available resources as well.
Training and Support for Family Caregivers
A GCM can be a supportive counselor for family caregivers. They can provide training and assistance, when needed, to help reduce care giving mistakes that could result in medical complications.
In addition, a GCM can step in for a caregiver who is out of town, and unable to provide services due to other commitments. This saves a lot of time and money for the family member from having to take time off of work and travel at an inopportune time given their other personal and professional responsibilities. Having a GCM that can step in during these situations can be invaluable.
A Geriatric Care Manager can assist in the implementation of technology that can reduce the need for additional home visits and provide peace of mind and cost savings for the patient and family. Solutions often include remote monitoring and online health services that can help improve the overall experience for the patient and family members, as well as reduce the additional time and cost of additional in-person visits and transportation.
Selecting a Nursing Home
As stated previously, a GCM should be well informed with the resources available in the area. This would include a good understanding of all the nursing home options, which includes the quality of care provided. This would be an independent, unbiased recommendation.
This helps side-step the national organization sales funnel whereby a salesperson is getting a commission for placing your loved one in a nursing home. The financial incentive for them creates a bias that does not account for the best quality of care that your loved one deserves.
Financial Planning Assistance
A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can also be a valuable member of the financial planning process. This often involves discussing the realistic options related to Long Term Care. Understanding the government programs and insurance options, along with other financial resources can help the family make the best decision regarding care.
Help Resolve Family Disputes
A GCM can be an important impartial voice to help resolve family disputes regarding important care decisions. By offering options, recommendations and examples of similar cases based on experience, a Geriatric Care Manager can save the family a lot of time, money, and stress during an emotional time.
How to Select Geriatric Care Management Services
Ok, so you have decided that a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) will be needed as an important member to help provide senior care for your loved one.
What are the steps you should consider when going through the selection process for this member of your care team?
Check for Certifications
A GCM that has a certification from a reputable organization is a good screening tool.
Some of these include certifications from:
- The Aging Life Care Association (ALCA)
- National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM)
The Aging Life Care Association website has a selection right on their home page for finding an “Aging Life Care Expert,” which is another term used for Geriatric Care Manager.
GCMs who are members of one of these groups is a good starting point for finding aging life care professionals in your area.
Getting a referral from a friend or relative is another good way to find a qualified GCM in your area. Someone who has had a recent positive experience is another way to help find a qualified care manager.
You can also ask for recommendations from social workers or healthcare professionals in your area, such as your primary care physician.
Be sure to check for certifications for your referral. The National Academy of Certified Care Managers has a page on their website to obtain a list of individuals who have an active CMC, which stands for “Care Manager Certification.” This is an important step in your verification and selection process.
Before selecting a GCM, be sure to interview at least two or three potential candidates. Having the perspective from at least two or three different choices will allow you to find the best fit for you, your family and your loved one.
This is an important step in the process. Don’t discount the value of a screening meeting. You want the right professional that fits with your personality and style to represent you and your family.
Consider the following questions to ask potential candidates:
- How many years experience do you have in the field?
- Please give examples of some challenging cases and how you helped resolve them?
- What services do you provide?
- Do you have a specific area of expertise?
- Are you a good fit for our situation?
- What is your billing rate?
- How will you provide value for our elderly patient and the rest of our family?
- Do you provide unbiased advice? Are you paid a commission for recommending and products or services?
- How accessible are you if there is an emergency?
- Can we have some references to find out more about you and your firm?
Expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $250 per hour for a qualified Care Manager, depending on their level of expertise and region of the country. You may need a specific level or service or advice, or you may want an overall holistic plan.
For a full one-time assessment, you can expect to pay from $500 to $2,000. This would be for a full assessment of the elderly patient’s medical history, future needs, options and recommendations. The cost will vary also depending on the scope of services needed.
Be sure to avoid long term contracts. Paying by the hour or project limits your exposure and allows the family to asses if the are receiving value for the cost.
Medicare does not pay for the using the assistance of a Geriatric Care Manager. However, some employee assistance programs offered to employees might include some of these services.
As you can see from the above, a Geriatric Care Manager can be an important member of the care plan for your family and elderly patient. If you are uncertain about the value proposition, why not interview some care managers to see if they might add value for you?
Executive Summary: Financial Benefits of hiring a Geriatric Care Manager
- Just like financial planners, a professional Geriatric Care Manager can provide valuable advice and options due to their training and experience
- Adult children caring for an aging parent for the first time are often in greatest need of an experienced professional to help guide them
Some of the ways a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) can add value for you and your family include:
- Insurance Optimization – helping you navigate the insurance plans and healthcare system to make the best decisions
- In-Home Care Support – coordinating home health services benefits the patient’s desire to stay home while also avoiding costly care facilities
- Home Living Assessment – reviewing the home and recommending changes to reduce the risk of injuries and hospital visits
- Coordinating Care – Ensuring the right care is provided and avoiding costly duplicative services
- Preventative Care – exercising proactive care to avoid larger medical issues
- Managing Medications – ensuring the right medications are taken at the right time to reduce the related risk of errors
- Patient Advocate – standing up for the patient and family to get the most value for services and medical products
- Education of Options – helping the family understand the options of care and the related costs
- Training and Support for Family Caregivers – stepping in to provide additional help when a family member is unable can be a valuable service
- Integrating Technology – helping to set up technology to improve the patient experience and eliminate the cost of travel and office visits
- Selecting a Nursing Home – if a long-term care facility is needed, a GCM can provide unbiased guidance of the preferred options
- Financial Planning Assistance – a GCM can be a valuable member of the team providing guidance related to long term care options
- Help Resolve Family Disputes – a GCM is an important impartial voice to help the family through important decisions
Executive Summary: Selecting a Geriatric Care Manager
- When selecting a Geriatric Care Manager, be sure to check credentials from a professional organization, such as the ALCA mentioned above
- Referrals from friends, family and healthcare providers is a great place to start
- Be sure to interview at least two or three candidates to ensure you get the right fit for you and your family
- Consider some of the interview questions mentioned above
- The cost of an initial assessment is often in the $500 – $2,000 range, depending on the scope of services needed. You can reduce the cost by limiting the scope of work.