Posts Tagged ‘geriatric’

Meet Geriatric Case Manager Denise Digh: Providing Patients, Families with Road Maps to Future

May 3rd, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

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.

Denise Digh, BA, RN, CCM, Owner/Senior Care Manager at Silver Coordinated Care, PLLC/Silver Concierge Services, LLC

HIN: Tell us a little about yourself and your credentials.

(Denise Digh): I have a bachelor’s degree in political science and French, and an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). I am also a certified case manager. I have been a workers’ compensation case manager for many years, working for the State Fund in Maryland and then in field case management. I started my own company, Silver Coordinated Care, PLLC almost two years ago and practice geriatric care management. This grew out of living with my in-laws and helping my husband be a caregiver to his parents for several years, and also being the only caregiver for my mom who has Alzheimer’s disease.

What was your first job out of college and how did you get into case management?

My first job out of nursing school was with the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) and medical step down unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. I then went into homecare case management for several years. I actually got into field case management when an old regional manager of mine opened her own agency and called me out of the blue to see if I would like a new job. I did and have been doing case management ever since – first in workers’ compensation and now with my own geriatric case management company.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

I can’t say I have one defining moment. I just always felt completely comfortable in case management and felt like it was definitely the right road for me. It suits my strengths. I have always been very good at organization and time management and have learned I hate being locked in an office all day!

In brief, describe your organization.

I am the owner/operator of a geriatric care management company, Silver Coordinated Care, PLLC and am co-owner of a senior transportation and concierge service, Silver Concierge Services, LLC. I strive to help adult children obtain superior care for their elderly parents (or other loved ones), whether that be finding the right homecare services, durable medical equipment (DME), renovation company, etc. or by helping them find the perfect senior community. I also do patient advocacy work, attending physician appointments to make sure the doctor is clear with what the patient needs, and the patient, and their loved ones, understand the plans put in place. I also offer medication management services.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that you follow in case management?

I always try to be comprehensive in my assessments, whether they be for finding a community or just doing medication management. I also pride myself on creating custom care plans for my clients — no cookie-cutter reports! I call my care plans SeniorCare Roadmaps™.

What is the single most successful thing that your organization is doing now?

My most popular services right now seem to be finding the right senior community and doing medication management. In fact, the need to find the correct senior community has become so popular, I’ve created a new Web site for families who just need this service. It will launch in a couple of weeks and is called www.NCSeniorHousingSolutions.com. Watch for it anytime!

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2013?

I think there is a subtle but definite trend of people being more open to looking at family care homes rather than large assisted living communities. These homes are in regular neighborhoods and offer all the important services an assisted living does but in a home-like setting. Most homes have only six or fewer residents.

I also see geriatric care management becoming more important and known as the boomers start being seniors and retiring. I think they definitely are looking for more wellness-like programs and the ability to plan out their retirement funds carefully, especially when considering the need for assisted housing in the future. People used to retire at 62 and only lived to around 68 or70. Many people are retiring much later now and living well into their 80s or 90s. It takes a lot of planning to be successful!

What is the most satisfying thing about being a case manager?

I derive the most satisfaction from my clients saying that they didn’t know what they would have done without me. I don’t say that to be conceited but it is a really warm feeling to know that what you did for them is so appreciated and has really changed their lives for the better!

What is the greatest challenge of case management and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

In my industry, the biggest challenge is not being able to get insurance companies to pay for the important services of a geriatric case manager. Other than some long term care plans (which many elderly people today do not have) insurance does not pay for case management services. We could save them so much money by making sure care is superior, medications are being taken properly and everyone is in a safe and healthy environment so that hospitalizations could be avoided. It is an uphill battle.

What is the single most effective workflow, process, tool or form case managers are using today?

There are many different case management systems out there. I don’t use a particular one. I find my big calendar and a smart phone with my email are my biggest helpers!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and moved to North Carolina when I was 19 as my father retired and he was from there. I still consider myself a Texan even though I now live in Virginia.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

I first graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. with a double major in political science and French. Needing an actual job, I returned to school and received my ADN from Surry Community College in Dobson, N.C. The biggest event that sticks out from my college days is the semester I spent in Paris and traveling around Europe. It was a really enlightening time and made me truly appreciate how lucky we are to live in the United States!

Are you married? Do you have children?

I am married to a wonderful husband who can fix anything and supports me in my crazy endeavors. I also have two gorgeous children – my daughter, Taylor who is almost 15 and my son Bear (Barrett) who is just about to turn six.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

As busy as I am, regular hobbies are difficult but I love to read and do so every night. My family were all big readers and we always had a love of books. I also really enjoy cross stitching, which I don’t have the time to do much any more, and baking. I had a small cake decorating business for a while and it was a great creative outlet. I also wrangle a bunch of chickens and four dogs!

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend?

I recently read Agenda 21 (by Glenn Beck) which was a very scary view of future possibilities if we don’t start standing up for our Constitution. I’m currently reading House Girl (by Tara Conklin), which is about a modern day legal reparations case, as well as the life of a slave in Virginia in the 1800s.

Any additional comments?

I hope that case management companies allow their case managers to retain their ability to do their jobs with their clients based on the clients’ needs and not force them into cookie cutter forms. That is where you lose the real benefit of a nurse’s knowledge, experience and caring.

I also think case management is a very important tool that is often overlooked in making sure patients have the right care, and families have the information they need and that everyone is on the same page. Planning for the future is getting more and more important with our economic upheavals and the aging of our population. I hope geriatric care management continues to grow and become more well known so more families can take advantage of our expertise.

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