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Celebrate Case Management Appreciation Week

Tara Kiene

Each year, our nation celebrates the second week of October as Case Manager Appreciation Week. If you are like most people, you might be a little vague about what exactly a case manager does.

Case managers show up in a variety of settings. They are frequently part of medical and human services teams. Here at Community Connections, case managers facilitate long term care services and supports, including a range of community-based services that support older adults and people with disabilities of all ages.

I like to think of a case manager as a kind of travel agent. A travel agent usually starts by helping you assess your needs and preferences for a trip. (You hate the beach and get seasick? Probably avoid the Caribbean cruise.) They help you figure out a goal – usually the place or places you will go, how long you will stay, how you will get there. They help you work within your budget to find the services you need to achieve those goals. A travel agent accomplishes this by finding places to stay, transportation, booking you for tours – all based on your choices. While they don’t accompany you on the trip, they continue to be available to support you if you have an emergency or something changes.

A case manager performs similar tasks. When you start planning your long-term care journey, they’ll assess your strengths and needs and help you figure out what programs you might qualify for. They also help you articulate your goals, although these are generally focused on how you want to live your life rather than a single, short-term destination. When the planning process starts, a case manager works with you to develop a plan for services that you choose. They also figure out a budget for what you can spend (usually with funding through state and federal programs such as Medicaid). Once you figure out the services you are looking for and what you can spend, they’ll help you shop for providers of those services.

Like for your vacation, services can be things like transportation and a place to live. They can also include help doing the activities you choose within the community, help finding a job, or even help getting up and getting dressed in the morning. But regardless of the services you choose, your case manager is there to continue their support if your needs change or the services you receive aren’t meeting your needs.

The support provided by case managers is crucial, and they are often the unsung heroes of the health and human services system.

Starting Nov. 1, Community Connections will be the single case management agency for long-term services and support in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, and San Juan counties. For most people in our region, this is not a change. People receiving Single Entry Point case management services from Montezuma County Public Health will transition with their case managers to Community Connections.

More information is available at communityconnectionsco.org, call 259-2464, or email info@communityconnectionsco.org.

Tara Kiene is president/CEO of Community Connections Inc.