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Case management involves a range of functions:

  • Screening involves identifying whether someone might have a substance use problem and should have a comprehensive assessment. It may make use of a standardized instrument.
  • Assessment identifies and defines a client’s major strengths and needs, characteristics and problems. Its goal is to generate the information necessary to refer a client to the appropriate treatment setting.
  • Treatment planning is a process in which the client and practitioners together select the appropriate treatment option, taking into account the client’s preferences and the services available. (Within the context of case management, “treatment planning” does not refer to a clinical treatment plan.)
  • Linking is the process of referring or transferring clients to services (e.g., housing or employment services) in the formal and informal support systems. The steps involved in each referral will be determined by both the level of support the client needs and his or her capabilities and resources.
  • Advocacy involves intervening on behalf of a person to help get access to needed resources and support. The case manger may need to advocate for a client with treatment agencies or with family members, employers, etc.
  • Monitoring is the ongoing process of evaluating the treatment plan, adjusting goals and/or referrals and then taking action as requested or required. It provides the continuity of care that is particularly important in cases where the treatment plan breaks down (Harrison & Carver, 2004).

Key skills for case management

Whatever his or her title, anyone performing case management functions needs the following:

  • fundamental counselling skills (such as summarizing, asking open-ended questions and responding to both verbal and non-verbal cues) to facilitate listening to clients and building empathic rapport
  • a good working knowledge of the range of services that could most efficiently address the client’s needs
  • credibility with other agencies, and the ability to communicate with their staff in a positive and productive way, including educating about opioid maintenance treatment as necessary
  • excellent problem-solving skills, including the ability to make efficient use of the system.

Source: CAMH Opioid Dependence Program