Yet another key function of case managers is resolving conflict. There are a number of reasons case managers engage in conflict resolution. One of the most frequent conflicts involves client behavioral issues. There are also occasions that the clients feel that their rights are violated and are requesting assistance with resolving the problem.
The case manager’s role is often the mediator in this process. The case manager is usually contacted when the situation reaches a boiling point and requires a more drastic intervention. Here are just a few steps I usually take in resolving issues with my clients and service providers.
Schedule a face to face Meeting- The face to face meeting is always the best way to resolve problems. Often times things can be misinterpreted in other forms of communication such as email and text messages. Some minor issues can be resolved with a phone call but more significant conflicts require a meeting of all involved parties. The meeting allows everyone to express their concerns and express them clearly. As the mediator, the case manager will likely be the one to coordinate a meeting if needed.
Discuss the Problems -Allow each side to discuss their concerns and explain the situation from their perspective. In most cases, there is a little fault on both the provider and the client. The case manager works with both the provider and the client to communicate more effectively and develop solutions. A simple miscommunication is often the source of conflict in the human services field. Other times the issues involve medical and behavioral problems and require a team approach to develop solutions.
Develop Solutions- The case manager works with the team to develop solutions and goals to prevent future conflicts. In some cases, a specific plan is developed to address the issue of conflict. I tend to recommend making a list of each issue and then list a solution for every issue.
Follow up- It’s important to follow up on the progress after the meeting by making contact with all involved parties. Depending on the level of progress, adjustments can be to the plan or another meeting to address persistent problems. When all efforts are exhausted, the best solution is a change in service provider. At that point, the case manager will begin coordinating discharge and assisting the client/family with finding a new service provider.
Case managers also manage conflict by advocating on behalf of their clients. Some of the most commons situations include assisting them with filing a complaint or appeal. This often includes filing out the necessary paperwork and accompanying them to any appeal or complaint hearing.
Providing Information- The case manager can advocate by providing information to authorities and other agencies. This is often the case when information is requested to determine eligibility for disability and other benefits.
Case managers might also provide information in situations in the form of reports and written statements. This is often the case when clients need to go to court and need documentation of disability.
Speaking Up for the client- The case manager may also be called upon to speak on the client’s behalf. Again, this is usually in court or other hearings where the client’s rights or freedom is at risk. The criminal justice system is not always familiar with the disability system and the case manager has to sometimes explain the disability and how it can influence behaviors. Being prepared in these situations can keep your client from going to jail or facing significant consequences.