A registered nurse since 1987, Elaine has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and in the home health field. She retired early in order to care for a family member, but when she saw a posting for a care manager position, she was intrigued.
“When I got the job, I started out slowly with just one or two clients,” she said. “There were times I had many more. Right now I have eight clients and several are long-term people that I see two to four times a month. They’ve become like family to me.”
Elaine explained that when you’re an R.N. working in a busy hospital, there is a limited amount of time that can be spent with any given patient. Moreover, “you’re on your feet a lot, always rushing from room to room.”
The pace is less hectic now. “As a care manager, I can spend more time with my patients, and it’s less stressful. My clients enjoy the socialization aspect too. For some of my patients, I’m the only person who visits them regularly.” Elaine helps people find community resources, affordable medications, medical equipment, transportation, home modifications, and more. She is their advocate and ally in an often-confusing healthcare system. “It’s gratifying to know that I’m really accomplishing something, and helping someone stay as healthy as they can possibly be.”
Care managers provide expert guidance for clients and families coping with the challenges of aging, chronic illness, and disability. A background in nursing, social work, gerontology, psychology, or other human services field provides a foundation for the additional skills care managers acquire in their work with clients and families. “We not only assess the person’s needs on a holistic level. We locate the resources someone may need to live as independently as possible.”
Elaine has worked as a care manager now for over three years, and she sets her own hours. “We use an electronic health record, and I rarely need to go to the office.” Gone are the days of paper charts. Elaine can use her secure laptop no matter where she is, and has become proficient in the software. When asked what she would suggest to a retiree who is contemplating a “second career,” she smiles. “You get such positive emotional feelings from this job. And it’s a good way to manage your time.”