When people are instructing case managers there can be a tendency to get overly focused on the clinical background and clinical skills of the case manager. That’s not to say that those areas aren’t important, of course a wide ranging knowledge of disorders and disabilities is essential, but it’s not the most critical skill required by a case manager.
Particularly on very complex catastrophic injury cases, the case manager may need to liaise with, and instruct, a wide range of professionals and disciplines. Most importantly the case manager will need to be able to coordinate all of these services, monitor them, and make sure they are being effective. That may mean arranging and directing a wide range of therapies in a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team, liaising with architects and builders on adaptation works, and supervising and managing a team of carers, amongst many other things. Alongside this, the case manager needs to be proactive in managing and coordinating all of these services.
So the skills of clear and proactive communication, coordinating and directing services, and managing and supervising are the most important skills that a case manager requires.
Our clients, and their families, have often been through very intense and traumatising experiences, which have been life changing. It’s important for the case manager to be able to empathise and engage in a compassionate way, but it’s also important that they understand the nature of the therapeutic relationship and how to maintain good clinical boundaries.
Psychological concepts such as projection and transference are important for the case manager to understand when they are stepping into the ‘field of trauma’ that often surrounds our clients and their families. They need to learn how to recognise these phenomena so that they are able to maintain healthy relationships with the client and family, in order that these can be sustained into the long-term.
At present there is no formal educational route allowing practitioners to become a qualified case manager. There is also no accreditation process which means that effectively anyone can call themselves a case manager and set themselves up in practice.
However, it is generally recognised amongst those instructing case managers that it’s a requirement for the case manager to have some formal qualification as a healthcare practitioner, such as an occupational therapist or nurse, and that they need to be registered with their own professional body, such as HCPC.
Case management organisations such as CMSUK and BABICM have been working together for a number of years and things are now moving forward with the formation of the Institute of Registered Case Managers. You can read more about it here https://www.babicm.org/2020/03/24/institute-of-registered-case-managers.
You can also watch an interview with Karen Burgin (Chair of CMSUK) on our YouTube channel where she talks about the Institute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKp4caJCpuA&t=280s.
Whilst there’s no formal education with regards to case management at present, there is a lot of emerging literature. That literature not only offers guidance to case managers, but is supported by empirical research as well. Organisations such as BABICM and CMSUK offer regular conferences and training events which help case managers with their continuous professional development, and support their practice.