Alphabet Soup: Understanding the professionals in elder care.

There is a steep learning curve to elder care and when it comes to finding professionals to assist your loved one, the credentials after each name can begin to feel like alphabet soup. We are decoding some of the common credentials in elder care to help you understand the educational background of those working with aging adults. 

CCM- Certified Care Manager. These professionals come from a variety of backgrounds and may have a baccalaureate, Master’s or Ph.D with at least one degree in counseling, nursing, mental health, social work, psychology or gerontology. Different clients may benefit from different Care Manager backgrounds. For example, a client with heavy medical needs might benefit from an RN Care Manager, whereas an aging adult with a history of mental illness may benefit from an MSW Care Manager. They are primarily engaged in the direct practice of services to the elderly and their families and also work with individuals with chronic disabilities.  They provide care coordination and oversight, advocacy, education, crisis management, etc.

RN- Registered Nurse- This is an individual who has graduated from a nursing program and passed a national licensing exam to obtain a nursing license.

BSN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing- a 4 years academic degree in the science and principles of nursing

MSW- Master of Social Work- This individual holds a master’s degree in the field of social work. They seek to improve quality of life for individuals through crisis management, research, education, and advocacy.  RNA (or NAR)- Registered Nursing Assistant- These individuals have undergone the basic caregiver training, but have yet to take the test for the state certification. They are unable to provide complex care that requires nurse delegation, but can provide day-to-day care and assistance. 

LPN- Licensed Practicing Nurse-This individual is a nurse who has completed a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree and passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

CNA (or NAC)- Certified Nursing Assistant- These individuals perform everyday living tasks for the elderly or chronically ill. They are certified based on the requirements of their individual state. They have taken an accredited nursing assistant course and passed their exam and maintain a certain amount of on-duty experience and continuing education. They are able to provide basic nursing procedures under the supervision of an RN or LPN. They often work in hospitals, home care agencies, or nursing homes.

Understanding the Differences between a Care Manager and a Caregiver

One of the most common misunderstandings we see from families looking to bring private care into the home is the difference between a Care Manager and a Caregiver. When it comes to the everyday tasks of living, caregivers are able to provide the hour by hour assistance to aging adults. Caregivers from a private agency can provide care in the home at incremental levels from a few hours a week to round the clock care. Multiple caregivers may be used to provide care for an individual each week.

Care Managers are educated at a high level to provide the guidance and oversight of the care. They specialize in the care of aging adults and take a holistic look at their needs that make up their overall quality of life. They are able to create a plan of care, supervise caregivers providing nursing tasks, and be a proactive guide for family. Clients and their family will only have one Care Manager that acts as a trusted advisor and a single point of contact.

An Elite Team 

The combination of caregivers and a Geriatric Care Manager creates an elite team of care that is able to provide a safe alternative to institutionalized care options. Sound Options has created this unique model in the Puget Sound region. As the largest Care Management firm in Washington State, we have a team of professional Care Managers from a variety of backgrounds. They partner with our In-Home Caregivers to help individuals age well in place with independence, safety, and a high quality of life. You shouldn’t need a de-coder ring to find the care you need. Starting today, you don’t have to be alone in the process. You have Sound Options. 800.628.7649 www.SoundOptions.com  

Published on May 5, 2014.