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The Nurse Partners who act as case managers at the Carle Clinic Association’s (CCA) Partners in Care program for the high-risk elderly work as a team with case management assistants, called care assistants. "Care assistants are vital to helping us manage the case load," says Tuni Miller, RN, MS, Community Nursing Organization program manager for Mahomet, IL-based CCA. "For us, it’s really a team effort. The nurses and care assistants have formed a good working partnership."
The care assistants maintain the office, make monitoring telephone calls that the Nurse Partner doesn’t have time to make, schedule patients, schedule provider contacts, and maintain records. The care assistants typically have experience being an assistant in a community agency and feel comfortable working with the elderly, says Cheryl Stirred, RN, PhD, FAAN, who heads the health system research center.
Your job setting can determine what role a case management assistant can take, says Catherine Mullahy, RN, BS, CRRN, CCM, president of Options Unlimited in Huntingdon, NY, and new president of the Case Management Society of America in Little Rock, AR.
A host of administrative and clerical functions can be carved out and done by a less educated person. For instance, you may have professional staff and administrative support staff with different roles and functions. If you need a rehabilitation facility for a patient, the assistant could gather the information on potential sites, which the case manager, the physician, and the patient can use to make a selection.
"There are various ways a paraprofessional can be a part of case management, but they should never been given a caseload and should never be the primary person for managing care," Mullahy says.