Geriatric care managers need your support. I was lunching recently with a friend who is a geriatric care manager (GCM) and I decided to ask her a few questions about why we don’t see more technology interest from GCMs. For those of you who haven’t heard of GCMs, here is the definition from their National Association (NAPGCM): "A professional Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives. The GCM is trained and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology." In essence, GCMs are the go-to professionals for families dealing with the frail elderly.
Don’t Know What. Don’t Know Why. Even though we know that GCMs have participated in AIP tech presentations at their conferences, we need to make sure that GCMs know about the variety of technology products available for their frail clients and how to best integrate them into a care plan. They need success stories so they can adequately demonstrate usefulness to their clients. Not surprisingly, many of their clients resist unknown technology products. (“Why haven’t I seen it on TV? None of my friends have that.”) Whether it’s affordability or fear of technology, clients aren’t interested in tech gear unless the GCM can give them a darn-good-reason for obtaining the product.
Help GCMs understand. GCMs know there are technology products out there that may be helpful to their clients. Some of the more commonly used ones are the medication dispensers, the personal emergency response systems, and the Jitterbug phone. When it gets into using other products, a GCM is going to want to know how the product was successful and want examples demonstrating usefulness to their clients.
The Fear Factor Times Two. GCMs themselves are not comfortable recommending technology that they don't know how to use, install or maintain. They don’t want to put something into place that they can’t figure out how to support. If it is a product that requires family interaction with the client -- like Skype or Presto email service -- there is additional training and support that needs to happen.
Help GCMs find tech professionals. Partnership with local geeks, uh, technology professionals is a critical path to success for them – people who can train clients and support the technology. GCMs are not alone here; most of the targets for AIP Tech are not generally comfortable with technology and need trained professionals to help. Local organizations that support RESNA philosophies are good places to find trained professionals who understand assistive technologies.
No job loss, just job enhancement. GCMs may look at technology as replacements for their services – the fear of job loss that I noted in this posting. This, of course, is not the case, but an issue that AIP tech companies need to understand and solve by explaining how their solution can help the GCM be more productive, have happier clients, easier workflow, etc.
Building the GCM AIP Tech Arsenal. My GCM friend recommended product sheets that fit into the way she does assessments – how can limitations in ADLS, iADLS, family-coordination, etc. be helped by a product or service. She wants to know the real cost of the product or service (install, support, monthly, etc.) Plus she wants to be able to share success stories of deployment in situations like she encounters, so clients can immediately see the benefits of the product or service.
One final thought -- help understand the baseline of tech use today. Fill out Laurie’s Future of Home Care Technology Survey so we can all better understand how to overcome these issues and identify ways that technology can help GCMs.