Sydney, a high-intensity treatment case manager at WellPower, cares for the people we serve on her caseload in the video below.
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Case managers fill a critical role at WellPower. Every day, they connect the people we serve with the resources they need to make living a life in recovery a sustainable reality.
“It’s hard to carry out a mental health treatment plan if you don’t have a place to live,” said Carl Clark, MD, president and CEO.
These staff are community-based and constantly on the go helping the people we serve meet basic needs like accessing food and shelter, assisting with transportation and applying for benefits like disability. They also interface with different clinical staff including psychiatrists, nurses and therapists to help deliver individualized care plans to each person we serve.
WellPower case managers are exceptional. Rather than providing a list of resources where individuals and families can go for specific needs, our case managers drive them and support them through the entire process, from grocery shopping to a primary care appointment, or whatever it might be.
To find out what case management looks like in practice, I shadowed one of our case managers for a day.
Coordinating Her Caseload
I shadowed Sydney who is a high-intensity treatment case manager at WellPower. The population she serves have acute behavioral health needs and have recently been homeless, hospitalized or may have justice system involvement. These individuals are looking for basic needs – such as shelter and food – and are often overwhelmed with not having a need met.
Sydney starts her day with an urgent situation regarding one of the people she serves. Last night she was on the phone with this individual who recently moved out of a shelter and into supported living where he was not feeling safe.
After, she regroups for morning telehealth appointments, an important part of her role which involves supporting people we serve during clinical visits, including psychiatry.
She calls the individuals who will be attending these appointments as a reminder but neither answer.
She calls her 9:30 a.m. appointment one more time and is disappointed when he doesn’t answer; his appointment is canceled.
For her 10:00 a.m. telehealth appointment, Sydney travels to the home of the person she serves with a computer so they can both join.
Sydney notes that this person lives with schizophrenia and has been going out all night and not returning home frequently. This person is on a court-ordered certification (meaning involuntary treatment) and injectable mental health medication. Sydney ensures that this individual does not have an upcoming pharmacy appointment to remind her about.
Learn more about how we treat serious mental illness at WellPower.
Meeting the Needs of the People We Serve
After her morning telehealth appointments, taking calls and checking e-mails in between, Sydney goes to one of the WellPower pharmacies and picks up medication for a person she serves.
Case managers do not normally deliver medication, but this person is not mobile. He usually has a friend who can get his medication, but his friend’s car is currently broken down.
As soon as Sydney hops back into her car, she gets a phone call about in-home care for a person she serves. She has been waiting for this call for weeks and is thrilled they are able to connect.
Sydney is buzzed into the apartment of the person she is taking medication to. He is very thankful to see her and asks if she can look for beans and peanut butter when she is at the food bank next.
When she leaves the apartment, Sydney notices she missed a call from the person who is feeling unsafe in his new supported housing unit. She calls him back but there is no answer.
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
Sydney pencils in office time to work on notes, make calls, check emails and continues to make referral connections for the people on her caseload.
She returns a call to a hospital where a person she serves is being discharged. Sydney needs to speak with the social worker to coordinate care; she leaves a voicemail.
Sydney tells me about another person on her caseload who has been at Denver Health for over four months. She goes to visit her once a week to ensure her needs are being met. She recently received a prosthetic leg after losing a limb to hypothermia as a result of being unhoused. They are waiting to discharge her until she has secured housing.
Sydney’s afternoon appointments are with a person who usually cancels last minute so she calls her to make sure their meeting is still a good time for her.
Sydney picks up the individual and brings her back to a WellPower pharmacy for a medication management appointment. A WellPower pharmacist reviews her prescribed medication and discusses the desired outcomes and possible side effects.
From the pharmacy, Sydney drives the person she serves to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to obtain a birth certificate.
When they arrive, they learn that the afternoon slots are appointment only and Sydney is unable to make an appointment due to using a voucher as a form of payment and not a credit card.
They decide they will come back another time during drop-in hours.
While Sydney’s phone continues to ring, the person she serves mentions she has no groceries and asks if Sydney will run her by King Soopers. Since this is the last person that Sydney is meeting with today, she takes her.
Sydney tells me that her days constantly pivot. The people she serves have high needs and it is common for them to cancel or even end up hospitalized or in an emergency.
After the last person she serves is dropped off, Sydney had a few remaining calls and notes to document and decides to finish them up in her car. She is trying her best to not take her work home with her. Sydney meets three to four people on her caseload each day in person and assures me she never gets tired of advocating and working to find solutions for the well-being of the people she serves.
“My job at WellPower allows me to see the world through the eyes of my clients and appreciate how aware and considerate they are,” said Sydney. “I get to meet people where they’re at and watch them grow into autonomous human beings.”