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July 2013 Archive for Disaster relief

RSS By: Pastor Craig Miller

Disaster relief coordinator Pastor Craig Miller shares disaster relief information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

A day in the life of a disaster case manager

Jul 15, 2013

By Tristen Edwards


A typical day in the life of a disaster case manager (DCM) involves client meetings, attendance at long term recovery events, resource research, and client follow ups. The clients’ needs serve as the backbone of the case management operation. As new clients present different issues, the case managers must widen their knowledge of available resources and options for recovery. As a result, DCMs constantly improve their ability to meet the unique needs of each household and point clients in the right direction to assure that they attain stability.


Client meetings

DCMs contact their clients within 24 hours of their assignment by the supervisor. Intakes are generally provided by the referring agency so the DCM has some background on each client’s situation before making the initial phone call. During the first meeting, the DCM becomes familiar with the client’s case and assesses their most immediate needs. After the DCM has a strong understanding of the client’s main issues, he or she can begin to organize the steps that must be taken for the client to achieve recovery. This process manifests itself in the disaster recovery plan. This plan involves the various referrals made by the DCM as well as an agreed-upon schedule by which each step will be achieved. Referrals usually involve recommending that the client connect with relevant voluntary organizations and community groups, disaster related grants, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The DCM and the client take responsibility for different steps outlined in the recovery plan and, in this way, work together to reach each objective. The client and the DCM both sign the recovery plan as a way of committing themselves to completing each step. Once the recovery plan is signed and the meeting is completed, the DCM reiterates what steps each will take before their next conversation.


An essential part of the client meeting and of the continuing relationship between the DCM and the client is the blue folder. All DCMs are trained on how to use these comprehensive folders, which keep all client information, consent forms, referrals, and contacts organized in one place. The DCM documents every interaction made with the client or made on the client’s behalf in this folder. Intakes, needs assessment forms, and recovery plans are also kept in the folder in order to remind the DCM of the client’s progress and continuing need.


Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG)

Long Term Recovery Group meetings are immensely helpful for disaster case managers, as they include up-to-date information on what relief efforts are taking place in the community and as they provide an opportunity to make important contacts with resources that could benefit clients. Participation in the LTRG also includes outreach efforts. DCMs attend disaster recovery fairs and other community events, in order to spread awareness of the services that case managers provide and to connect interested households with a case manager.


Follow up, follow up, follow up

Client follow ups are a necessary part of a DCM’s day. DCMs must keep track of where their clients are in regards to the recovery plan. Client follow ups also include making calls to relevant volunteer organizations in order to track a client’s application status. DCMs must stay in consistent contact with their client, though the number of phone calls made each month will vary based on the severity of the client’s situation and on the client’s willingness to work actively with the DCM. Although the DCM is an important part of a client’s recovery, the most essential actor is the client. DCMs give their clients the tools to bring them towards recovery but it is up to these clients to decide how and if they will use these tools. One of the greatest challenges in a DCM’s daily work is remembering the limitation of her abilities to achieve a client’s recovery as well as the vital importance of the client’s own active participation in the process.


Self care

In a profession where the employee is consistently presented with another’s trauma, it is important to incorporate self care into the work day. Self care prevents case managers from experiencing compassion fatigue and burn out. Self care involves taking breaks throughout the day, refraining from answering work calls and emails outside of work hours, sharing difficult experiences with other DCMs, and taking action to prevent too much stress.



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