Q&A: Supporting families during the COVID-19 pandemic
Q: In addition to caring for patients during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, how can case managers help support the families of patients?
A: The pandemic has created difficult times for families of nursing home patients. When a loved one is transferred to a long-term care facility, the family is often unable to visit, says Ellen Fink-Samnick, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, CCM, CRP, author of the HCPro book The Social Determinants of Health: Case Management’s Next Frontier. Case managers regularly encounter families who are struggling not only with the difficult COVID-19 diagnosis, but also with how to care for their family member after discharge, she says.
“Families that previously trusted the subacute facilities for quality rehab care no longer had faith, and patients without families and resources had no safe discharge plan,” says Shawna Grossman Kates, MSW, MBA, LSW, CMAC, director of case management at RWJBarnabas Health in Toms River, New Jersey.
Ethical dilemmas have popped up, as well. Case managers are often privy to insider knowledge about disease outbreaks and staffing levels at area nursing homes. This knowledge can complicate the situation, as case managers have a responsibility to be transparent with patients when assisting with subacute or long-term placement, says Kates.
For additional information, see the October issue of Case Management Monthly.