Reach Out and Build Consumer Awareness of Case Management

By Wendy De Vreugd, RN, BSN, PHN, FNP, CCDS, MBA
 Wendy De Vreugd is the Senior Director of Case Management, West Region, Hospital Division. Wendy De Vreugd is the Senior Director of Case Management, West Region, Hospital Division.

 

First of all, during the 2013 Case Management Week it is time to express our collective thanks to all our Kindred case managers and show appreciation for their daily dedication, persistence, advocacy and hard work in the care of our complex patients. The empathy that is shown every single day to our patients and families makes a tremendous difference in their lives as they go through their difficult hospital experiences. This week of heightened public awareness also gives us (as case managers) a chance to boost knowledge and share the value of a case manager’s role.

There are many changes ahead for healthcare and these changes are coupled with continuing nursing and educator shortages. As case managers, we will need to reach out to build our future programs and case manager pipelines in response to these pressures. Preparation will require thoughtful vision to strengthen and prepare our organizations’ new case managers to deliver safe, effective case management and transition of care planning. That said, there is a question we also need to also pose to ourselves: where are the new generations of case managers going to come from?

Consumer Awareness of Case Management In a study done by Park & Huber (2009), the challenges of an aging case manager workforce were presented (see revised graph of information). Over 24,000 certified case managers were screened, and the average age was 55.1. Only 4% of these surveyed case managers were less than age 40. So where do we start to build our new pipelines of case managers? From the ground floor up! Starting with public awareness of our CM roles….

Reach Out

Unless someone has been ill, or dealt with a family member’s illness, they may not have been in a position to require a case manager’s skills to weave through all the red tape of healthcare options. Let’s look at a few ideas on how one can make a difference as a case manager in raising consumer and public awareness outside of one’s healthcare setting in everyday life.

  • Speak at a church or senior group: You will find they are eager to enlist help to learn about insurance, benefits, and healthcare.
  • High school career day: What fun - to go back to your high school as a nurse alumnus and ask if you can contribute by being part of their career education day. You may open a few students’ eyes to a future nursing case management career. In fact, this is the way I got interested in a nursing career! Now I have been able to “pay it forward” by going back to my high school 40 years later to talk to students.
  • Hold a career day at your hospital for local high school students: Give tours for students; teach them how to take a blood pressure or listen through a stethoscope to a heartbeat; show them what a case manager does; have nursing training program information available. Many of these students are eager for mentors!
  • Career fairs: Many organizations hold these fairs to attract employees, but many also come to learn about new potential careers. A small booth, a smile, and a willingness to talk go a long way to expand awareness.
  • Be a good neighbor! During times of crisis or illness a helping hand in navigating a system or learning of options is much appreciated. Tell your neighbors you are a nurse and/or case manager!
  • Write and publish a story: Sharing a positive experience about ways you can help patients can raise knowledge of the value of case management.

Imagine how we could raise awareness and knowledge of the value of case management through one small act. More knowledgeable consumers translate to better healthcare choices (and just maybe more interest in a future case management career!)

Once again – thank you for all you do as case managers!