How a Care Manager Helps in Emergencies

“The emergency room can be a chaotic place, and this can be upsetting to older adults,” said Heather Arsenault, CMC, an Aging Life Care™ manager here at Windward. If your older loved one lives in the San Diego area but you live far away, having a care manager can provide great peace of mind. A care manager will visit your loved one on an agreed-upon schedule and coordinate any home care or home nursing care services they need. Beyond those important contributions to your loved one’s safety and well-being, the care manager is also there for your loved one when an emergency happens.

In the blog post “Crisis Managed the Windward Way,” Heather explained in detail how she helped a client during a visit to an emergency room after a fall (pre-COVID). “I am grateful that Windward staff can accompany our clients during these stressful hospital visits, providing advocacy, comfort to the client, and peace of mind to their families,” said Heather. You can read her account here.

Families often ask for specifics about our emergency assistance. Here are some common questions and answers.

How does the care manager get notified in an emergency?

Windward Life Care has an experienced clinical team member on call 24/7 to respond to clients’ needs, so clients never have to work through an answering service. Outside of normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.), including holidays, clients are instructed to contact the “on-call” phone number with any questions or concerns that may arise. We always have two staff members on call—a staffing team member and an on-call care manager. The on-call care manager can help navigate emergency department visits at night, on weekends, and on holidays.

Senior man with oxygen tube lying on hospital bed. Sad old patient feeling sick at hospital.

Do you notify family members?

Yes, we contact the family or responsible party and provide updates as available. This is especially helpful if your loved one lives in California and the family members are out of state or in a different time zone.

Can the care manager go to the emergency room with my loved one?

It depends. During the height of the COVID pandemic, hospitals weren’t allowing outsiders in. Even now, access for non-patients can be limited. In these situations, we continue our advocacy and care coordination for the client/patient over the telephone, directly with emergency room staff.

What does advocacy include?

When the ER team first evaluates the patient, their condition may not be obvious, and they may be unable to speak for themselves. To prevent premature discharge, the on-call care manager can advocate for additional testing, discuss more of the client’s condition, etc. Sometimes a client who has cognitive impairment will say, “I’m fine and want to go home,” but they really need a full work-up. We can also provide medication lists, insurance information, etc., to the emergency staff.

What happens when it’s time for discharge?

The care manager works with the hospital’s discharge planner and helps the client and/or their family with any decisions they need to make. That assistance might be ensuring the proper equipment is available once they return home, helping select a nursing or rehabilitation center if that is needed, ensuring any new medications available once they are back home, or coordinating transportation from the hospital.

Windward care managers can continue serving and advocating for clients who have been admitted to a nursing or rehabilitation center, whether temporarily or permanently. And our home care and home health services can help support your loved one once they are back home. Please contact us to learn more about our continuum of care.