Case management and estate planning might seem unconnected at first glance. However, they are vitally important services for older adults and their families as they navigate the aging landscape. We will look at each of their roles and how they partner with home care agencies to provide the safest, most affordable care for families.
What is a Case Manager, and What do They do?
Case managers are a vital part of any treatment team in a hospital, rehab, or nursing home setting. Case managers might be social workers, RN’s, or have a certification in case management. Case managers usually have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as psychology, sociology, or criminal justice. These are some of the essential functions that case managers perform.
Assessment of Patient/Family Needs and Goals
When a patient is hospitalized or transitioned to a rehabilitation center, the first step for a case manager is to complete an assessment of medical and family history, needs, patient strengths, and care plan goals.
The case manager asks questions about the home environment and the possibility that going home is appropriate. They will ask questions about the accessibility features of the home, current caregiving situation, and support services that are already in place.
Assist with Connecting Patients and Clients to Home Care Services
As a patient is getting ready for discharge from a treatment health center, they may need help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, cooking, and transportation. A case manager makes recommendations for home care agencies such as Home Care Assistance to fill those needs. Case managers also arrange for medical home health services paid for by Medicare or private insurance.
If a patient is about to be discharged from a hospital setting to skilled nursing rehab, the case manager will coordinate that discharge and recommend the most appropriate environment for recovery.
Address Financial Concerns
Case managers are not financial planners and are not licensed nor authorized to make financial recommendations. They do, however, help families access private and public programs for financial assistance. Case managers are experts in local support care resources for older adults.
Promotes Client Self Determination
In the chaotic and confusing environment of healthcare, the patient often gets left out of the discussion and decision-making process. A case manager advocates for and promotes the goals of the patient.
A case manager is the hub of the wheel of care. They communicate with the treatment team and family to ensure the best and most affordable care.
What is an Estate Planner, and What do they do?
Estate planning is a critical part of any long term care plan. Many people mistakenly think that that you have to have substantial assets to benefit from estate planning. Also, people confuse financial planning and estate planning. Estate planners are attorneys, and many have specialized certifications in estate planning. Let’s look at the differences between the two.
- Financial planners assess a person’s current financial goals, including the review of investment accounts and business investments.
- They assess the client's overall financial health. A financial planner helps clarify existing options and recommends products, investments, or other strategies to help someone achieve their financial goals.
- Financial planners determine long-range care planning goals and assure that funds will support those goals. They also recommend investments consistent with client goals.
- Estate planners ensure that assets are protected in case of incapacity and ensure proper distribution of assets upon death. As part of this planning, they look to potential long term care needs and make sure that funds are available to pay for private duty care or other institutional care.
- Estate planners prepare health care and financial power of attorney documents. These documents can be arranged to give immediate authority to a family member, or only in the event of incapacity.
- Estate planners help families decide on who will assume guardianship if someone becomes incapacitated.
- Estate planners are familiar with state and federal tax laws and how to minimize tax consequences.
- Estate planners can set up trusts if the size of the estate warrants it.
The importance of having estate planning documents in place cannot be overstated. Without healthcare and financial authority, families often end up paying far more than they would have otherwise. Moreover, during times of a healthcare crisis, someone needs to advocate for and get healthcare information on behalf of a loved one.
Case Management and Estate Planning: A Team Approach to Care Planning
Case management and estate planning are two essential components of any long-range planning effort. By having a financial and estate plan in place before someone needs care, families will have the confidence to guide decisions. Working with a case manager is easier when you know what your options are and the costs associated with those options.