Case management is an approach to problem-solving and service delivery that starts by viewing clients as active participants who are experts in their own lives. Case management may occur within agencies or across community systems. The purpose of the case manager is to link people with needed resources and services through outreach, assessment, utilization review, and monitoring client progress toward goals. This article discusses case management and why it matters.
What Is Case Management?
Case management is a client-centered, non-disciplinary approach to problem-solving. The term ‘case’ refers to a person who may receive help through services such as counseling, supported living, housing support, or educational support. The word ‘management’ refers to the process used by case managers to link people with resources when they get stuck between service systems or do not know how to access them on their own.
Case management can be defined as a way of organizing and providing care that focuses on individuals who have complex needs and multiple service/care providers. It involves working together across systems to identify what is important to the person, then developing a plan with them that clearly states what they want and need. Services are coordinated across agencies and systems; services are provided by the most appropriate service system or agency and all involved recognize their roles and responsibilities.
Here are numerous reasons why case management matters a great deal.
It Is An Empowering Approach
Rather than applying ‘fixes’ to clients from the outside (as in traditional treatment programs), case managers work together with their clients to find out what they think needs fixing and how this might be done by themselves. By doing so, individuals have more choices and opportunities for success as their decisions are made about things that matter most to them rather than being imposed by others. It also means that the client is involved in the service planning and is accountable for carrying out their role in their plan.
Case management can be very empowering as many people who have lived in poverty feel disempowered because they do not believe that they could make a difference. This includes those who may lack self-esteem (due to mental health issues, substance addiction, or other problems). Becoming involved in case management gives them an opportunity to develop skills and build confidence by succeeding at making decisions about how help will be provided and used, rather than being told what to do.
It Is An Individual Approach That Acknowledges Diversity In Needs And Capabilities
Case Management recognizes that no two people are alike! This is especially true for non-profit organizations and the reason why essential case management software for nonprofits is vital. Some individuals may need more assistance than others while some may need less. Some individuals may be able to access services on their own while others will need help with this process. Case management acknowledges that the individual is an expert on his or her life and has the ability to make good decisions about what works for them if they have the support of a case manager who believes in them and treats them with respect.
This realization has important implications as it is not always necessary to provide more services (e.g., someone needing assistance finding housing can be linked with a social worker at a local shelter rather than being sent to a mental health clinic). Nor should services require more resources (e.g., not everyone who needs help achieving employment requires vocational counseling).
It Is A Timely Approach To Problem Solving
Many people who are poor have experienced trauma and/or abuse throughout their lives. They may be very distrusting of systems or public service providers because of this, which can contribute to a lack of cooperation with the traditional services that they are offered. Case management, on the other hand, is a unique approach in that it offers support sooner rather than later (i.e., when problems have escalated).
By then, costs to society and individuals from lost wages, crime, or homelessness will be significantly higher as these issues exacerbate mental health and addiction problems. The earlier case managers get involved with someone who has complex needs, the more options there will be available for them to find solutions to their challenges.
It Is An Approach That Requires Ongoing Communication
Individuals with complex needs require more than one service provider to assist them. The reason for this is because they often need help from various professionals in collaborating their services (e.g., housing, mental health, addiction services, etc.). By doing so, each agency will have a better understanding of the individual’s situation and what interventions can be made in order to help them achieve goals.
This also means that there are several lines of communication open between these different service providers which creates a more coordinated approach towards helping someone out of poverty and/or homelessness. It also reduces overlapping services where resources are being wasted by offering the same thing twice.
It Promotes Innovation
Case management allows different professionals and organizations to share information in order to create innovative solutions for people experiencing poverty and/or homelessness. For instance, integrating employment support into mental health services can result in someone being able to secure long-term employment rather than just short-term contract jobs.
Similarly, linking housing support with addiction services can reduce the risk of someone relapsing because they are no longer in a stressful environment or around people who trigger their addiction. When everyone is on board and working towards the same goals for an individual or family, it will lead to better overall results so that everyone can move out of poverty rather than just being able to manage to live in poverty.
It Is A Way To Reduce Costs Over The Long-Term
Case management is viewed as a low-cost intervention because it only involves one or two case managers working with someone. However, there are also additional financial benefits that can come about because of the services and support being offered. For instance, if someone has spent months living on the street they may end up in hospital because of an illness related to their living conditions. This not only costs taxpayers money through taxes that fund hospitals but also results in lost wages from missing work due to sickness.
By getting homeless individuals into housing quickly would reduce these types of extreme costs immediately. Similarly, linking people with mental health and addiction issues to community-based services would reduce the cost of hospital admissions over time.
The term “case management” refers to an approach that ensures people have appropriate help and support from various service providers in order to meet their goals. Rather than receiving a one-size-fits-all package or bundle of services, individuals are able to receive different types of support based on what they specifically need in order to achieve success. This means working together with people, not for them or around them. It also involves working across many agencies and organizations (e.g., mental health services, housing authorities) in order to create a more seamless transition into living independently and/or breaking the cycle of poverty. It’s important and cannot be overstated.
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