What’s In a Name? The Rebranding of a Profession

At this moment in time Juliet’s famous question comes to mind, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) have been asking themselves a similar set of questions, “What’s in our name? Would a profession by any other name be as effective, comprehensive, and sophisticated?” Sound Options shares an important update from NAPGCM.




A Growing Trend

When we think about the way we communicate the meaning and value of a profession, person, object, or an idea, Saussure’s “theory of the sign” helps us remember that language is built of both a signifier and a signified. A “signifier” acts as the pointing finger. It is the word, image, name, etc. The “signified” is the thing we are indicating by the signifier, the meaning behind the word, image, name, etc.

As eldercare has experienced a boom to meet the growing demands, the industry has not only become more saturated, but it’s become noisier. More people are talking about the care they provide to seniors and their families. Over the last decade, the terms “Care Management” and “Care Manager” became trendy buzz words and they began to be used in a variety of ways by people doing very different work. The terms as signifiers remained the same but were pointing in numerous directions. As meanings diversified, it caused more confusion among consumers trying to learn the lingo, compare professionals, and make informed decisions. As NAPGCM thoughtfully engaged this growing dilemma of how to differentiate services, it became increasingly clear that it was time to create a new signifier, a new name, a new brand that the association could trademark and own.

The association brought in Jane Cavalier, CEO of BrightMark Consulting in New York, who immersed herself in the culture of care management speaking to both professionals and the clients and families they serve. In an intensive collaboration BrightMark reimaged the branding of the association to distinguish its members through their education, experience, and certification. Beginning in May, the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers will now be the Aging Life Care Association™. May is already known as the month where we shine the spotlight on the Care Management profession and this May is the first annual “Aging Life Care Month”.

What Makes a Care Manager an Aging Life Care Professional™?

An Aging Life Care Professional is not just someone serving seniors as a care coordinator, but indicates a professional who is a member of the Aging Life Care Association™ (Formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers). The association collaboratively shapes the profession while defining its parameters, ethics, and goals that guide the standard of care. Care Managers come from a variety of educational backgrounds including geriatrics, psychology, social work, and nursing. What they have in common is a commitment to a holistic model of care that doesn’t carve out and address only the healthcare needs of an individual. Care Managers understand that finances, family dynamics, friendships, insurance, homes, legal paperwork, health, and dreams for the future all have a place at the table. In the words of the organization, “Aging Life Care/ geriatric care management is a holistic client-centered approach to caring for older adults and other facing ongoing health challenges. Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals™ provides the answers at the time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality of care and ongoing life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress, and time off of work for family caregivers through:

  • Assessment and monitoring
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Education and advocacy
  • Family caregiver coaching
  • Long-distance caregiving”

Are the Roles or Scope of Care Managers Changing? 

In a word, no. That which we call Aging Life Care™ does embody the same professional essence and scope as when we called it geriatric care management. As the association points out, “Aging Life Care Professionals continue to be engaged to assist in a variety of areas such as:

  • Housing: Helping families evaluate and select appropriate level of housing and residential options,
  • Home Care Services: Determining types of services that are right for a client and assisting the family to engage and monitor those services.
  • Medical Management:  Attending doctor appointments, facilitating communication between doctor, client, and family, and if appropriate, monitoring client’s adherence to medical orders and instructions.
  • Communication: Keeping family members and professionals informed as to the well-being and changing needs of the client.
  • Social Activities: Providing opportunity for client to engage in social, recreational, or cultural activities that enrich quality of life.
  • Legal: Referring to or consulting with an elder law attorney; providing expert opinion for courts in determining level of care.
  • Financial: May include reviewing or overseeing bill paying or consulting with accountant or client’s Power of Attorney
  • Entitlements: Providing information on Federal and state entitlements; connecting families to local programs.
  • Safety and Security: Monitoring the client at home; recommending technologies to add to security or safety; observing changes and potential risks of exploitation or abuse.
  • Long-Distance Care: Coordinating the care of a loved one for families that live at a distance; including crisis management.
  • Resources: Locating local, cost-effective resources and engaging them as needed.”

Membership with the organization has always been an important part of Mary Lynn Pannen’s own work as a care manager and owner of the care management firm, Sound Options. In the past Mary Lynn has served as the president of the National Association of Geriatric Care s as well as on its board. Now in 2015, after reflecting on the 31st annual conference she said, “As the demand and value of care management and care coordination grows, a leader association rises to meet those demands. The NAPGCM, now a 30 year-old association, is meeting the challenges of care for the chronically ill and older population. With a new fresh look at what we have always done, this new name of Aging Life Care™ gives life to aging and clarity to our services.”  

Check out their new website and find an Aging Life Care Professional™ anywhere in the country at: www.aginglifecare.org


AGING LIFE CARE™ and AGING LIFE CARE PROFESSIONAL™ are trademarks of the Aging Life Care Association. Only ALCA Members are authorized to use these terms to identify their services. 

Published on May 8, 2015.