This month we provide an inside look at a healthcare case manager, the choices she made on the road to success and the challenges ahead.
Trish Colucci, RN, Certified Geriatric Care Manager, Certified Gerontological Nurse, Certified Case Manager, current president of the New Jersey chapter of NAPGCM, Owner of Peace of Mind Care Management Services, LLC
HIN: Tell us a little about yourself and your credentials.:
(Trish Colucci) I have been a N.J. state Registered Nurse (RN) since 1985 and have additional certifications in gerontological nursing, case management, and life care planning. Currently, I am the president of the N.J. chapter of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM). Prior to that I served two years as treasurer and two years as vice president.
What was your first job out of college and how did you get into case management?
When I graduated, I started working as a floor nurse at a local hospital. Although I always saw myself in pediatrics, there were no positions available at the time, so instead I accepted a position on the orthopedic floor. It was serendipitous! In that unit, I developed a love for working with elderly folks. I was later offered a shift in career to insurance case management, at the time when that field of nursing was brand new. In that position, I developed valuable organizational skills and clinical knowledge that helped me coordinate care for our catastrophically ill or injured claimants and to ensure that they received the best medical care possible.
Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?
Years later, I gave birth to my son who has Down Syndrome, and who had a lot of special medical needs. I was able to utilize my case management skills (which were now second nature) to coordinate a team of top-notch doctors who addressed Michael's multitude of medical problems and worked together, with my management. It was after that that I noticed friends coming to me to ask advice for coordinating care for their own loved ones. It helped me realize how valuable my case management skills were and how they could be helpful to others trying to navigate the confusing worlds of medical care and insurance.
In brief, describe your organization.
Peace of Mind Care Management Services, LLC is a care management firm that assists families, guardians and caregivers with the management of their loved one's personal and medical care. We specialize in crisis management, often finding families confused and overwhelmed by their responsibilities in an arena with which they are not familiar. As care managers, we assess the situation and create a specialized plan of care that addresses the needs of the client within the available budget. We offer support, resources and guidance so that families feel more comfortable and informed in making important decisions for the care of their loved one.
Serving as president of the New Jersey chapter of the NAPGCM has opened my eyes to opportunities for care managers on both the local and national levels. Although the field of geriatric care management has been around for over 25 years, it is not well known by the general public. Our chapter's main focus over the past year has been on developing a solid, working public relations committee, and to make, "geriatric care management" a household word and the first point of contact for families who need help with their loved one.
What are two important concepts or rules that you follow in care management?
- The most important concept in care management is a trusting relationship. Our clients need to know that as care managers we provide honest, caring advice that is in their (or their loved one's) best interests. We are not financially connected to any resource we may offer to a family, and this keeps our advice objective and trustworthy. We refer to resources we would use for our own family members and this provides an extra level of trust with our clients.
- Compassion is another important concept. At Peace of Mind, each client is as precious as the next, coming to us with his or her own history and special needs. We reach out to our clients and their caregivers with compassion and empathy, developing an understanding about where they're coming from so we can tailor our guidance in a way that makes them the most comfortable.
What is the most satisfying thing about being a care manager?
What I derive the most satisfaction from is the look on the face of a client or caregiver we've helped. Seeing on their faces the signs of relief...of tensions easing...because they got the help they needed to care for their loved one, provides me, as the care manager, the signs that I've done a good job for the family. Even in situations where clients are in the process of dying, knowing that I have coordinated their care such that they will leave this world feeling comfortable and loved, makes me feel good about the work I do.
What is the greatest challenge of care management and how are you working to overcome the challenge?
What I love about being a geriatric care manager is the diversity of duties, however that's one of the things that makes this job such a challenge! Each day brings forth some new challenge, and my schedule can change hour-to-hour. It helps to be flexible! I am fortunate to have a strong, warm and wonderful care management team made up of nurses and social workers. When we are faced with tight situations, we reach out to one another for assistance and support. Whether it's a race against time to get medical equipment in the home before a client comes home from the hospital, or a family member who needs extra hand-holding and reassurance on a particular day, or an unexpected emergency with a client that needs immediate attention, we are ready to act.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Denville, N.J. and am the eldest of three girls. I am a "Jersey Girl" through and through. My dad was a police officer and my mom was a bank teller. Sounds like the makings of a good Bruce Springsteen song, doesn't it?
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