Life Enrichment as a Care Management Approach
by Felicia Juntunen, CMC, ECM Director of Care Management
Elder Care Management care managers follow a person-centered, holistic approach to serving our clients. Determining a client’s access to life-enriching activities is part of the comprehensive care management assessment, which may lead to a referral to a therapeutic activity specialist. Like the personalized approach of care management, a therapeutic activity specialist provides services where the client resides, whether at home or in a senior community, and tailors their interaction with a client according to the client’s ability and interests. There are activity specialists who are faith-based in their approach, while some have grants available for clients with a restricted income. Other providers specialize in cognitive stimulation approaches using music and movement for clients living with memory loss. The signature feature of an activity specialist is their development of customized interactions to engage with and enrich a client’s experience.
Care managers understand the barriers that often interfere with an older adult’s ability to access socialization, brain-stimulating activities, and exercise. When barriers are identified, a care manager creates a plan to connect a client to appropriate activities that will improve their quality of life. Therapeutic activity specialists are a significant resource that Elder Care Management often proposes as part of a client’s care plan. A care manager can provide helpful background information about the client to guide the activity specialist in their approach, and collaborate, as needed, to best support the client.
Elder Care Management refers with confidence to the services of activity specialists because we see firsthand the benefit of their creative engagement with our clients, especially for those who are homebound, or, have cognitive decline which limits their access to other activities. The personalized approach of this unique profession helps combat the self-imposed isolation and boredom that can occur with the onset of dementia. One-on-one engagement is also a non-pharmacologic approach to wellness and can be useful in understanding and mediating anxiety and agitation. Many activity specialists can also provide training for other care partners to enhance communication and daily interaction with the client.
Life enrichment, via the support of a therapeutic activity specialist, is a perfect complement to the guidance provided by the Elder Care Management team. Our care managers and our client’s families are encouraged by the joy and satisfaction the client exhibits from their interaction with these creative and devoted professionals.