Interview: Geriatric Care Manager Barbara Ringgold
I am very excited to introduce a new feature of the Life Transition Blog, interviews with leaders in fields serving those in transition. My hope is to help you get a better understanding of the many professions that are at your service and will help you feel less overwhelmed. If you know of a profession and/or professional you’d like to see interviewed for this feature, please be sure to be in touch.
Barbara Ringgold is a Geriatric Care Manager practicing in Naples, FL. I have been fortunate to share many clients with Barb and have learned so much from her, both about the role of the care manager as well as about how to best serve older adults and their family caregivers.
What is a Geriatric Care Manager (GCM)?
GCMs offer personalized services to older clients, helping to identify health related, psychosocial, financial or legal problems they may have. The care manager creates a care plan to solve the problems identified in the assessment and then takes the steps to implement a cost effective solution that takes into consideration the client and family wishes. Care managers are expected to be on call for their clients 24/7 although do not act as an emergency responder.
Who usually hires you?
Typically I am hired by a family member or the person serving as Power of Attorney.
Why are you usually hired?
I am usually hired to help find solutions to a presenting problem. Usually the family is at a loss how to handle Dad or they are too far away to be available to “really” know how their parent is doing much less help.
How are you different from other, similar professions?
GCMs focus on problems of aging helping to educate clients and families about options. Care Managers do not make decisions for clients, but respect the client’s autonomy and work to help their clients make sound, informed decisions about how they age. GCMs act as advocates ensuring their client’s best interest and wishes are served.
How did you get into this field? What is your story?
During the last 15 years of my nursing career I had focused on Geriatrics. During that time I witnessed countless families struggle with decisions for their parents about home vs. facility care, end of life decisions, caregivers, how to manage services to their parents once they left town to return to their homes. I saw the enormous anxiety and burden and knew there was a huge need to assist families in the community. I started my company out of a passion for helping older people, one family at a time.
What training, education and/or experience is required or helpful to do what you do?
Professional GCMs are typically educated in nursing, social work, gerontology, or health administration and certified by examination and work experience as Certified Care Managers.
Are there other special certifications? If so, what does obtaining them entail, and how important is it for a consumer to look for someone who possesses these credentials?
Certification begins with a qualifying bachelor’s degree or licensure in nursing, social work, gerontology, or health related field. One must work under supervision as a care manager for at least two years and have had at least two years’ experience in the human services field. The applicant must pass a certification exam and recertify every three years, documenting ongoing education and work experience.
How can a consumer find someone like you?
The NAPGCM National Association of Geriatric Care Managers maintains a website () with members listed by state and zip code for easy reference. Most members maintain their own websites as well.
What are the three most important questions to ask before hiring a GCM?
What is your educational background and work experience?
Are you certified, and by whom?
What professional licenses do you have?
What are your top tips for working with a GCM?
Hold nothing back. Communicate constraints on finances, long held fears, past health crises, and family disagreements on care. Care managers are skilled at helping but we need the right information to do so.
Please visit Barb’s website at http://www.seniorcarefamily.com.