Windward Life Care is proud to partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to provide care management services for individuals in San Diego living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The National MS Society provides telephone case management for the majority of individuals needing assistance via their MS Navigator program, but some clients who require in-person help are referred to the Edward M. Dowd Personal Advocate Program of the National MS Society. Through this generous program, care management services are provided at no cost to the client to help him or her achieve specific goals geared toward maximum independence.
Multiple Sclerosis: The Benefits of Care Management
How can a person living with Multiple Sclerosis benefit from care management? Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a progressive, degenerative disease that affects people of many ages and backgrounds with symptoms that can vary from person to person. The symptoms range in both severity and onset, and can vary from week to week — even from day to day — making it difficult to predict the trajectory of the disease in a person’s life. People with MS frequently experience fatigue, as well as symptoms like vision difficulties, sensitivity to heat and cold, muscle pain and spasms, and cognitive changes. These symptoms can get in the way of a person with MS being able to organize their own affairs and advocate for themselves.
For these reasons, a Care Manager (CM) can be a valuable partner and advocate for a person living with Multiple Sclerosis. Care Managers can help by first listening to the client’s goals for their care and then creating a care plan to match the wishes and needs of the client. Care plan goals can address symptom management; social support; mental and emotional health; caregiving assistance; and government benefits and entitlements, among other goals. Although the client is the expert in their own lives, the CM is knowledgeable in community services which can support the client in achieving his or her goals with dignity and the utmost quality of life.
The Role of a Care Manager
One role a Care Manager can play in helping a person with Multiple Sclerosis it to be a healthcare advocate. A person with MS may find herself receiving health care in multiple settings including the hospital (acute care), rehabilitation center or nursing facility, and at home. When the person with MS is in a facility setting, the Care Manager can provide immediate support and advocacy, including confirming medical history, relaying medical treatment wishes to healthcare providers, as well as providing emotional support to the client and their family.
The Care Manager can also assist the person living with MS to evaluate different options for symptom management, as well as different healthcare providers, so he or she can make informed decisions about care.
As the care needs of a person with Multiple Sclerosis can increase over time, he or she may require additional in-home care, housing resources, or alternative placement options. The Care Manager helps the client with MS navigate the sometimes overwhelming number of options available and guides the client through the selection process, taking into account the available resources and support.
In addition to the “practical” supports offered by care management, people with MS benefit from the ongoing emotional support that Care Managers can provide. The unrelenting physiological changes caused by the disease, the hardships related to daily care, and the fear of the unknown can weigh heavily on the mind of the person living with Multiple Sclerosis. A Care Manager provides support to the client and family and normalize their experience of coping with MS. If the client would benefit from more intensive support, the Care Manager can refer to a community mental health provider as needed for psychological and/or psychiatric services.
Should you or someone you know have a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, or for further information, you can contact Windward Life Care, or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Navigators at 1-800-344-4867 or https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Helpful-Links/Contact-Us
Penelope Pongun, BSW
Aging Life Care Manager
Windward Life Care