How to start a career in case management

20th July 2020

Do you want to make a positive difference to the lives of people within your community? If so, you might like to consider pursuing a career in case management. Case managers – or caseworkers, as they are sometimes called – are responsible for working closely with clients to assess and improve their quality of life. They help with day to day issues, as well as longer term problems. This often means assisting individuals and families to access financial, medical, and social aid, with the aim of helping those who are disadvantaged to find their feet again.

What is the role of a case manager?

The job of a case manager involves working closely with clients to guide them towards improving their quality of life. Case managers understand the different pathways to aid that are available for community members, and can therefore help to create and negotiate plans with the aim of achieving positive outcomes. They can offer a fresh perspective on problems and potential solutions that clients may not have been aware of, or are unable to access on their own. Working in tandem with their clients, case managers decide upon goals that are both attainable and aspirational. They are then able to set up prospective timelines with incremental milestones, and facilitate progress.

It is the role of a case manager to act as a supporter who can effectively ‘translate’ complicated and institutionalised processes to members of the community – particularly those who may be disadvantaged due to their literacy, spoken language, education, or other such accessibility issues. Some clients may also feel uncomfortable dealing with particular institutions and government agencies due to previous traumatic experiences, and case managers may act as a friendly face that can build a trusting relationship and guide them through the necessary processes. A successful case manager helps clients to remove unfair barriers to aid, and prevents them from being further underprivileged by the difficulties they may have in interacting with bureaucracy.

Why study case management?

Working as a case manager can be an extremely rewarding job. Clients come to case managers with problems that are significantly affecting their lives, and that they are unable to solve themselves. These clients can range from displaced youth who are looking for housing, to people with chronic illnesses that need to access Centrelink or other government support. As such, case managers must be able to communicate effectively and respectfully with people from all walks of life.

People who are organised and good at problem solving would be well-suited to this profession. There are many moving parts that need to be coordinated for each client, and it’s the job of the case manager to ensure that all plans are enacted as smoothly as possible. They also help with administrative tasks such as compiling risk assessments, helping their clients to access and fill in forms, arranging appointments and meetings, and helping to read and interpret documents.

This is a people-oriented industry and every client is unique. As such, a case manager’s day to day work structure and tasks are dynamic. People who are interested in learning to adapt to challenging and changing environments may enjoy this kind of work. In addition to this, the ability to reflect critically on their own progress (as well as their clients) is vital for the continued effectiveness of a case manager.

Study and Career Pathways

There are a number of study pathways to explore within case management. Many community services courses will give you an insight into the profession, and of the various needs of different community members. These courses will teach you to work effectively with a variety of people, and provide you with the skills to support them through every step of the case management process. For the most part, this pathway involves learning to work as a consultant, but can also involve working in the capacity of an interventionist, particularly if you choose to specialise.

It is possible to choose a more particular pathway to work within aged care, youth services, mental health, or other specialised areas. While many of these opportunities are best discovered and explored on the job, it is also possible to study to become a youth case worker. This course involves learning additional skills to deal with the unique issues that youth face, including sexual health and substance abuse. Whichever pathway you choose, working within case management is sure to be both challenging and worthwhile.

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