A Day in the Life of a Human Services Case Manager
Case managers are responsible for coordinating a number of activities and services for their clients on a daily basis. Some days a case manager can be on the road all day visiting clients and some days in meetings for five hours of the day. There are other times when a crisis situation can consume two to three days of a case manager’s week. Then there are some days that are totally consumed with paperwork.
There is never really a dull moment during the day of a case manager. There are always new resources that need to be explored and new regulations that need to be understood and implemented. Managing a typical workday can be a major challenge with juggling paperwork, meetings and constant phone calls. Developing a daily routine can help provide a general framework and guide for how to schedule your day. Although the likelihood of your day going exactly as you planned it is small, a basic guideline is helpful in maintaining a sense of organization.
Here is my typical routine for a “normal” work day. Although I’m not sure there is such thing as a normal day in the world of case management.
1. Check Phone Messages/Email- I usually check and return phone messages and emails. I tend to handle messages based on the order of when I receive them. If there is a message that’s an emergency, then that takes precedence.
2. Check Calendar for Appointments- Double check for any appointments that are scheduled for today or in the future. Of course prepare to take care of any meetings scheduled for today.
3. Check for any expiring Reports/Plans- Most agencies that utilize electronic records have a notifications system that provides reminders when reports are approaching their due dates or past due. This is a time when I check my notifications for reports or progress notes that are due and/or incomplete.
4. Handle Walk-ins/Unscheduled Appointments- There are some occasions when clients come to the office unannounced without an appointment. It’s always been my policy never to turn people away unless I absolutely have no choice. If this is the case, I make sure there is someone else available to provide assistance.
5. Schedule Future Appointments- A full caseload (in most situations) is around 30-35 cases. There is usually at least one annual treatment plan due each month. It’s recommended that annual treatment plan meetings be scheduled about a month in advance to allow enough time for each service provider to complete their treatment plans. You also want to plan ahead to be respectful of everyone’s schedule and not plan at the last minute.
6. Wrap up daily paperwork- I try to finish logging all of my notes at the end of the day. Some agencies require a certain amount of direct service time be documented on a daily basis. In a perfect world all progress not for the day would be completed by the end of the day. In reality you will likely finish up these notes the following day.
7. Plan for the next day- The final step is planning for the next day. This involves reviewing my calendar for appointments and setting up reminders for notes and other reports that need to be completed.