An Empowered Case Manager: An Insider’s Insight

Keith Blackwell

Let’s be honest – case management is tough. Nobody got an instruction manual when they signed up to do this work. Every day case management caseloads increase in volume and complexity without any relief from the high expectations that clients, government/payor regulations, and other practice professionals have.

Recently, in effort to provide clarification to the profession that is case management, the ACMA and CCMA have approved a unified definition, 

“Case Management is a dynamic process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates to improve outcomes, experiences, and value. The practice of case management is professional and collaborative, occurring in a variety of settings where medical care, mental health care, and social supports are delivered. Services are facilitated by diverse disciplines in conjunction with the care recipient and their support system. In pursuit of health equity, priorities include identifying needs, ensuring appropriate access to resources/services, addressing social determinants of health and facilitating safe care transitions. Professional case managers help navigate complex systems to achieve mutual goals, advocate for those they serve, and recognize personal dignity, autonomy, and the right to self-determination.”

That’s a lot of responsibilities for any singular profession, isn’t it? Improve outcomes, experiences, value and collaborate with other professionals while still giving the clients we serve the right to self-determination is a lot to handle. If you are case manager feeling defeated know that you are not alone and that there’s a few things you can do to change that feeling. 

Here are three things to consider on your journey to being an empowered case manager: 

  1. Accountability

A good case manager will understand the importance of shared accountability. Everyone involved in a client’s care has a role to play and contributes to the overall outcome. Clients need to care about their outcomes just as much as case managers and other practice professionals do. Due to the unique position case managers have, case managers can assist in goal-setting and attainment, offer feedback and set expectations, explain the consequences when the contributions fall short and lead to lesser outcomes. A good case manager will hold themselves and all participants accountable, and will consider how outcomes can improve from learned experiences.

       2. Relationship Building

Case managers understand that sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know, and realize relationships are key. Relationships between case managers, clients, and other professionals and providers play a pivotal role in the daily work. A good case manager knows how to connect clients to services in order to enhance outcomes and can use relationships to make these connections happen seamlessly.

       3. Boundary Setting

Boundary setting is more difficult now that it has ever been before. The non-stop phone calls, emails, text messages, and documentation deadlines are enough to make any seasoned case manager feel overwhelmed. Anyone who enters into a helping profession (social work, nursing, etc.) typically does so due to a passion for wanting to help others, however learning to set boundaries between work and non-work is something that is often learned too late. It’s good practice to assess your personal boundaries, communicate those boundaries, respond to those who cross them in real-time, and, most importantly, learn how to say no. Boundaries will create a positive life-work (yes, life comes first) and improve the work you complete.

Case management is an important specialty many practice settings and requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. What is something you can do to feel more empowered as a case manager, or what are some important things you wish you knew at the beginning of your case management career? I’d love to hear from you (

Empowered Case Managers