What is Life Care Management?
As the baby boomers begin the journey into life’s later years, they look forward to more time to spend with family and friends, more opportunities for travel and leisure, and more time for the activities that give them personal fulfillment. They will find as their age increases, so does frailty and often the complexity of their health care increases, as well. The baby boomers will also find a healthcare system is more complex than ever before. Recognizing that many people would need help navigating our healthcare system, the National Association of Private Geriatric Care Managers was formed in 1985. Over the next two decades, the care management industry evolved to more than just helping seniors navigate medical care, so the NAPGCA changed their name to the Aging Life Care Association to reflect the expanded role of the professionals who make up their organization. We at IKOR are proud to be Corporate Partners of the ALCA.
Life Care Management Looks at a Person Holistically
Health makes up only part of an individual’s overall well-being. A person’s happiness, living conditions and finances all contribute to a well-rounded quality of life. As Life Care Managers, we take all aspects of a person’s life into account when crafting a Life MAP for our client.
The LMAP begins with an assessment to understand the client’s medical, environmental, psychosocial and financial needs. IKOR’s Managing Directors and Registered Nurse Advocates (RN Advocates) receive special training to help them fully assess the client’s situation and determine what services will help that individual live the fullest possible life.
At the center of each IKOR office is the Managing Director. This individual watches over each client’s case to ensure the LMAP is being implemented appropriately and consistently with the client’s wishes. To handle the client’s day-to-day needs, or should the client require assistance with their finances, our Personal Needs Coordinators are ready to be of assistance. For our client’s medical needs, each IKOR office is staffed by an experienced Registered Nurse who acts as our client’s medical advocate. Being a medical advocate can take the form of a number of roles. Our RN Advocates can accompany clients on doctor visits to ensure the doctor understands the unique needs of the individual and that care among many providers is coordinated. Our RN Advocates are often called to perform various assessments. These assessments can range from cognitive assessments to safety assessments to medication assessments. We currently have 35 assessment tools that we can use to help our clients maintain their independence and quality of life for as long as possible.
Life Care Management Assesses Safety
One of our most important responsibilities to our clients is to ensure their living arrangements meet their needs and are safe. During an environmental assessment, we determine the client’s optimal living situation by evaluating their mobility, physical strength, cognitive ability and other factors to ensure the highest degree of safety and best-possible quality of life. If a client’s living needs are best met by living in a community setting, IKOR will consider the client’s financial situation, personality and likes when making a recommendation for community living. Our work with the client doesn’t end once we have helped them find community living arrangements, however. An RN Advocate, or the Managing Director, will routinely check in with the client to support their emotional adjustment and will perform unannounced quality assurance checks to assure the staff is consistently and appropriately honoring the client’s wishes while addressing their physical well-being and medical issues.
Life Care Managers Coordinate the Delivery of Services
Service Coordination is perhaps one of the most important life care management services we perform for our clients. While service coordination has typically meant coordinating healthcare services between providers, Life Care Managers look beyond a client’s health needs and coordinate all the services that help an individual maintain a high quality of life. IKOR’s Personal Needs Coordinators and Managing Directors know many of the service providers in the community, and we can help clients or their families vet service providers to take care of the yard, provide home repair services, or provide upgrades to the home to make aging in place easier. Our offices know the local home care providers and can help select a home care agency to prepare meals, arrange transportation and provide any number of in-home care services a person might need.
When a client can safely age in place, an RN Advocate or Managing Director will help select necessary services to support independent living. This can range from hiring a home care agency for companion care services to finding a service provider to remove snow during the winter and tend to the lawn in the summer. Our RN Advocates can help with minor home changes, such as adding non-slip pads under rugs or moving cords out of the way to minimize tripping hazards. Should more intensive home modifications be required, our Personal Needs Coordinators can assist in vetting contractors, collecting bids and performing on-site quality assurance.
IKOR’s Personal Needs Coordinators Take Life Care Management Beyond Care Management
Unlike many care management or case management providers, IKOR goes beyond helping clients manage their health — we work with clients to manage their finances, too. Having an understanding of our client’s financial situation enables us to make recommendations suitable for the financial situation. In some instances, we can help clients enroll in government benefit programs, or get them assistance with their prescription medications. Our financial assessments can also uncover financial abuse or exploitation, or help individuals take steps to avoid becoming a victim of predatory behavior. These services don’t take the place of the services a financial planner can provide, and in some instances, we may recommend a client work with a financial planner to ensure they have a financially sound future.
Life care management varies from person to person, but regardless of our client’s needs, we always adhere to our core tenet: helping older adults and individuals with disabilities live life to its fullest potential and with dignity.