Treatment for addiction and mental health disorders is complex. Effective treatment plans take into consideration the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients, and large teams of physicians, nurses and mental health professionals may be responsible for delivering care.
Fortunately, there is someone who helps the care team and advocates for each patient. That individual is the rehabilitation case manager, and by performing their job duties, they help to ensure that those undergoing treatments receive the best possible care.
What Is a Case Manager?
A case manager is a professional who coordinates care for patients. Their job is to ensure that everyone who delivers care to someone is working toward a common goal. To do this, they communicate with members of the care team and review patient health information.
They also serve as a primary point of contact for the patient, answering their questions and ensuring that they understand recommended treatments. When concerns arise about the quality of care that a patient is receiving, the case manager advocates on behalf of the patient and works to find a solution to the problem.
What Is a Case Manager at a Hospital?
At hospitals, case managers serve as the point of connection for physicians, nurses, therapists, dietitians, patients and patients’ loved ones. While a person remains at the hospital, the case manager visits regularly and monitors their progress.
Hospital case managers don’t deliver direct patient care. Instead, they play a supportive role, keeping the team on the same page and ensuring that patients and their families remain informed.
In addition, case managers employed in hospitals are often responsible for ensuring continuity of care following discharge. For patients who can’t safely return home without ongoing support, they may provide assistance finding a rehabilitation center or nursing home for a short- or long-term stay or a home health care company.
Sometimes, case managers at hospitals also help patients determine how they’ll pay for care. They may handle negotiations with insurance companies or refer individuals to government and charity programs that can help lower the cost of treatments.
What Does a Case Manager Do at a Rehab?
A case manager employed by an addiction and mental health rehab has a similar role to those who work in hospitals. However, they are working with people who are recovering from substance misuse and mental health disorders rather than illnesses, injuries and diseases.
Each person who enters rehab receives a treatment plan designed to address physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social components of addiction and mental health disorders. A rehabilitation case manager will coordinate care between doctors, therapists, nurses and other professionals who will execute this plan while also supporting and advocating for the patient.
As a patient nears the end of inpatient or outpatient rehab, the case manager will help put together their aftercare plan. They may help the patient find employment, housing, support groups, 12-step program meetings and resources to help them remain free of drugs and alcohol or continue to manage their mental health condition.
What Is a Typical Day Like for a Rehabilitation Case Manager?
Every day on the job is different for a rehabilitation case manager. Generally, they:
- Attend meetings with the care team
- Complete paperwork and update records
- Develop care and aftercare plans
- Sit down with patients to discuss their progress, answer questions and address concerns
- Update care plans
What Does It Take to Become a Rehab Case Manager?
A bachelor’s degree in social work, nursing, psychology or a similar field is often the minimum education to work as a rehab case manager. According to the Department of Labor’s O*NET, about half of all case managers hold a bachelor’s degree. Some employers may prefer to hire individuals who have a master’s degree, and roughly 24% of those who work in their field hold one. Typically, bachelor’s degree programs require 4 years of full-time study, and master’s programs last 1-3 years.
Is There Certification for This Job?
States don’t require case managers to obtain licenses. However, getting voluntary certification from the Commission for Case Manager Certification can improve employment prospects. To qualify for certification, a rehabilitation case manager must meet education and experience requirements and pass a written examination.
What Is the Demand for Case Managers?
The demand for case managers is generally on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field will grow much faster than the national average through 2031 and that there will be 18,000 job openings for qualified case managers each year until then.
For case managers who wish to work in rehab, job prospects may be particularly good. The use of illicit drugs is on the rise, having increased by 3.8% from 2019 to 2020 alone, and roughly 21% of Americans experienced symptoms of mental illness during that time frame. These statistics point to a desperate need for treatments and services that rehabilitation case managers can help provide.
Is Case Manager a Good Job?
In addition to being in demand, rehabilitation case managers are well-paid, earning an average of $74,000 per year. Many employers offer generous benefits packages that include insurance coverage and paid time off in addition to salaries.
Being a rehabilitation case manager can also be personally rewarding. Professionals in the field have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others and also get the chance to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds.
What Makes a Good Rehabilitation Case Manager?
A good rehabilitation case manager is a strong communicator, both during conversation and in writing. They are skilled listeners and adept problem solvers. To perform well in the role, you need the ability to empathize with others and have a genuine desire to help people improve their lives. Being able to remain calm when dealing with people who are distressed or angry is also important, as is a willingness to be flexible and adaptable due to the ever-changing nature of a case manager’s daily routine.
Do Rehabilitation Case Managers Have Opportunities for Advancement?
Case managers are often a natural fit for leadership roles at rehabilitation centers. The communication, time management, organizational and interpersonal skills required to succeed in the role could translate to upper management and executive-level positions in the future.
Is Case Manager the Right Job for You?
At FHE Health, rehabilitation case managers are a big part of how we deliver quality care to people seeking help for addiction and mental health disorders. We’re frequently looking for professionals with the right skills, education and experience to join our growing team. To learn more about employment opportunities, contact us today.