According to the Case Management Society of America, “case management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote quality, cost-effective outcomes.”
At Helping Hands Hawaii (HHH), the Behavioral Health division provides community-based case management and care coordination. Our case managers work in the field and office to provide assistance where their clients live, socialize or worship. Both our Oahu and Hilo teams serve adult consumers who are challenged with severe mental illness and have requested services to assist them in managing their living needs. Some clients may also have co-occurring substance use issues or are struggling with homelessness.
Our case managers help their clients with all types of things, like mental, physical and emotional health assessments; day-to-day planning of basic needs, like doctor’s appointments, medication planning and food and housing assistance; and facilitating access to other services, like requesting personal identification documents, benefits management and referrals to programs offered by other non-profits agencies. This is accomplished through collaboration with the consumer and other providers, such as health care or legal professionals, care givers and family members involved in the individuals’ care need.
The practice of case management has been around for nearly 40 years, and it continues to span all health care settings, which include payer, provider, government, employer, community-based, medical, therapeutic, behavioral and home environment. Case management services focus on specific populations in need by creating individualized care plans depending on a client’s unique requirements. Like the type of services provided, the intensity, frequency and comprehensiveness of care is based on the client’s health conditions, care setting, insurance coverage, doctor’s recommendations and many other factors. Case management is always voluntary, and consumers decide whether or not to maintain it.
HHH’s case managers believe in a collaborative approach where many decisions are client driven. This holistic method assesses all areas of a consumer’s life and choices and encourages behavioral changes to improve their independence. Our case managers advocate for consumers to be their own decision makers in their care, including setting goals they want to accomplish in their lives. They help clients to learn and apply self-management tools, like anger management techniques, and participate in shared decision-making to increase the potential for best outcomes.
In this field of work, case managers interact with a variety of individuals who have different value systems, cultural beliefs and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as different ways of expressing their struggles. They talk with consumers to understand their needs and sometimes function as liaisons to ensure that everyone is heard and understands one another. Individuals who request the services of a case manager are often going through tough transitions, and case managers must be compassionate and sensitive to these personal challenges. They must work with individuals to help them move forward toward a more stabilized life.
In most instances, case managers are responsible for the care of multiple consumers at a time who are all asking for help. Clients may be at a different place in their lives and require various types of services. Case managers must keep notes and document interactions with each person in an organized manner for accurate record keeping. They must help find solutions for problems on a daily basis using critical and clear thinking skills, and they must understand mental health diagnoses, treatment options and referral sources for a variety of needs.
Case managers are an integral part of the health care system through the services they provide to their consumers and the support they give to other providers. Their primary concern is the fulfillment of an individual’s comprehensive health needs as determined by the consumer in consultation with professionals in the field. The hope is for clients to live more independently and manage their lives successfully to accomplish their goals.