What is a Care Manager?

You’ve heard of a caregiver. In fact, some of you may already be serving in this capacity. Caregivers are the “boots on the ground”, providing much needed services to those who are very young, very old, disabled, ill, or injured. Caregivers may be skilled or unskilled at their craft, and they may be serving in an official or an unofficial capacity. They might be paid, or they may be volunteering their time.

Woman holding another woman's hand
Caregiving for loved ones can be both rewarding and difficult

Caregivers provide the hands-on assistance that people need. They might perform in-home care including bathing, general light-duty house cleaning, administering medication, and preparing light meals. They might also go grocery shopping, attend medical appointments, and perform other duties as requested.

A care manager, on the other hand, is a professional who helps individuals find and coordinate appropriate services to meet their needs. Someone might require a hired care manager if they don’t have a family member who can serve as one, or if their caregiving needs are particularly complicated. Often, care managers have roots in social work, nursing, or gerontology.

Wayne Stokes, who is a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Advisory Committee on Aging, has experience serving as a care manager for older people and adults with disabilities. His background was in the Office of Disability Affairs, where he served as an ADA Administrator.

He shared his experience as a care manager for one of his first clients, Mary. Mary’s family requested assistance from Wayne in organizing a plan for the maintenance of Mary’s health and wellbeing. “I requested a meeting with Mary, her family, and a professional caregiver on my staff. We discussed a plan of action to meet her current needs.”

Over the next five years, Wayne continued to coordinate in-home caregiving, nursing, and Meals on Wheels deliveries for Mary. Wayne worked with Mary to organize her medications, create a comprehensive list of treating physicians, and coordinate her travel to and from medical appointments.

He also connected the family with a contractor who was able to retrofit her home. Small changes, including moving her bedroom to the first floor, allowed Mary to stay at home instead of moving into assisted living.

Man beside a woman on a swing
If you find yourself needed extra assistance with caregiving responsibilities, consider hiring a care manager

“Mary loved the flowers that were on her screened-in porch, so the contractor installed a ramp from the kitchen to the porch. This allowed her to navigate to the porch to water and take care of her plants she loved.”

Even if you are already serving as a caregiver or have a trusted caregiver, a care manager can alleviate stress in complicated situations. This is an excellent reason to seek the professional services of a care manager.

If you are looking for a care manager or a professional caregiver, seek out someone with many years of experience and great references.  Wayne recommends for people to conduct a criminal background check to ensure that you are bringing someone who you can trust into your home. Of course, it is essential that the person demonstrates good communication skills and shows a passion for working with persons with disabilities or chronic conditions. For people living in metro Atlanta, Empowerline can help connect you to resources in your area.

Arin Yost

Arin is a Program Analyst at the Atlanta Regional Commission, where his work focuses on health disparities and equity across the Atlanta region.