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The designation of "care manager" was created in year 2000, with the implementation of Japan’s long-term care insurance system. Under the system, the role of care managers is to help individual elderly clients, families and other caregivers adjust and cope with the challenges of aging or disability by: conducting care-planning assessments to identify needs, problems and eligibility for assistance; screening, coordinating and monitoring home care services; providing client and family education and advocacy; offering counseling and support. Care managers are expected to have extensive knowledge about the costs, quality, and availability of services in their communities. Care managers are also expected to take responsibility of medical mediation and to collaborate with other service providers including physicians and nurses as part of a community-based integrated care system.
Although meeting the needs of clients and their families as well as the expectations of physicians is a challenging task for an important number of care managers, there has been an increase in the number of care managers who become licensed caregivers but who lack the skills to communicate effectively with physicians and nurses or to handle medical problems. A previous study revealed that care managers were frequently used as information source for family caregivers of elderly people needing support or care, while television and newspapers have traditionally been common sources of health information among the general population. This paper discusses the current situation of care managers as information source for elderly people and explores strategies to maximize their role, minimize their strain to avoid burnout, and improve their communication with physicians and nurses. It concluded that community-based medical education for care managers would allow them to acquire the knowledge about medical care and services needed to act as efficient information sources.
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