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Five Keys to Becoming a Great Case Manager

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April 10, 2016

Teamwork in Case Management


Teamwork is yet another critical aspect of having a good case management  program.  There is no case manager that can have all the answers so it is important to work together to solve problems and provide the best services possible. Your co-workers can be a valuable source of information, especially during crisis situations.  I’ve been a case manager for over 10 years and I still ask questions all time. You never know who may have that one resource that can save your day.


Case managers in the same unit can have different backgrounds based on education and work experience. These differences create a diverse knowledge base  that help to insure a high level of service delivery.  Teamwork is one of those subtle aspects of case management that are used on a daily basis. People like case managers and other human service professionals  tend to have the natural instinct to help others.  I’ll lay out just a few of what I feel are the most important benefits of teamwork when in reference to case management and human services. 

Resources                  
Knowledge of resources is one of the keys to providing quality case management services. Co-workers can provide valuable resources that you can pass along to your clients.  Each case manager has a different case load and often has knowledge of resources that you may not know about.  You can also provide resources to your co-workers based on your experiences. Some case managers may have more children on their caseloads and can provide information on children’s services.  Other case managers may have older clients on their caseloads and have experience with resources that serve the older population.  Then there are case managers who have experience with the criminal justice system and can provide help to others if they need to go to court. This type of support really helped when I had to prepare a report for the judge and go to court with one of my clients. Let’s not forget the value of knowing emergency respite providers during a housing crisis.

Case managers also share their experiences with other service providers. This information helps the client and their families make more informed decisions. This includes any history of violations, location, quality of services, and any other important information. Of course the purpose of sharing provider experience should not be to influence their decision but simply to share information.

Knowledge /Experience
Case managers also bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. Mental health and intellectual disability case managers can have degrees that range from Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Criminal Justice, Human Services, Counseling, Education, and beyond.  Case managers also come from diverse work histories and can provide valuable experience that can be passed on to others. Many case managers often start their careers doing direct care in places like group homes, psychiatric hospitals, as well as direct services in community –based programs. This experience is important because it allows the case manager to have knowledge of direct services and this information can be passed on to other case managers and families during the referral process. 


Problem Solving
Teamwork is also used to solve problems that arise with your clients. Another case manager may have dealt with a similar problem and can provide support. This usually happens in team meetings and other staff meetings. Usually there is time allotted for discussion of individual cases.  At this time, the team will offer advice and support to help resolve the problem.

Staffing/Consultation
There are times when the need for resources goes beyond what other case managers can provide. This is the time extra reinforcement is needed. This is often the case with clients who are difficult to serve due to extreme physical aggression or due to criminal history. In some cases, psychiatrists or other behavioral specialists are needed to help serve the client.  Support from state facilities might also be called on if no provider is able or willing to provide services.

Supervision
Most agencies require a scheduled time for each case manager to sit down with a supervisor to discuss their progress. That can occur weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the agency policy. This is usually the time that case managers discuss both the progress of their cases as well as their productivity and career objectives. It’s a time that can be used to for staff development and it also keeps your supervisor informed of everything going on with your caseload. This is particularly important if you have active cases that have legal involvement or active cases with Child Protective Services or Adult Protective Services. Active communication between the case manager, co-workers, and supervisors insure that clients are provided the highest level of service and are complaint with all state, local, and agency regulations. 

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