Aging In Michigan - March 2022

Spot Light on Social Work and Case Management

“It’s amazing how often i find myself bringing a social worker into an initial meeting with a client, ” says Attorney Sara Schimke.

“It might be because someone needs help finding the right assisted living facility or hospice program, it might be because the parent involved is unwilling to listen to advice from a child, or because we need to assess whether a living situation is safe of how it could be made a safer.  I mean, since I’ve been practicing law the CT it’s just become a natural thing.  I seriously don’t know how I practiced elder law before without this type of support,” Attorney Schimke said.

How is Happened

“I guess the way it came about is that a couple years into it, Doug and I were becoming experts in the various facilities and care agencies in the communities where we then had offices.  We looked at each other and realized that a lot of what we were explaining to clients wasn’t really legal information and yet it was all part of the package of issues that our clients needed to have resolved in the context of the legal matters they came to see us about, ” Amy Tripp recalls. ” So we hired our first social worker, and it just took off from there.”

Social Workers vs Case Managers

“Social workers are a big part of CT’s approach to elder law,” explains Attorney Chris Smith, “and case mangers are another slice of that same pie.”

Whereas our social workers tend to get involved in cases where there is some urgency, our case managers more often play a role in those situations, where we expect to stay involved over a longer haul.”  For instance, in cases involving adults with disabilities or children with special needs, we can call in case managers to map out the expected needs and cost of care so that we can develop a plan for a quality of life that takes into account available resources, including government benefits and private funds,”  explains Attorney Smith.

Attorney Smith further explains,  that type of planning, often  combined with the use of special needs trust, can make a big difference in terms of giving families a sense of peace about what the future holds.”


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