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The training process requires a unique approach when the professionals you hire come with a master’s-level orientation that includes the case management process, says Mary Kay Racette, MS, CRC, CDMS, CCM, senior rehabilitation case manager in the disability management services department at ING Employee Benefits, formerly ReliaStar Employee Benefits in Minneapolis.
ING Employee Benefits provides disability case management and hires only professionals with a master’s-level vocational education. After an overview of the organization and its products, new case managers work side by side with Racette in a mentoring-intensive training program.
"I begin by giving them assignments to look for certain pieces of information in an existing file," she notes. "This is simply to get them comfortable with our system and the research process."
The next step in the mentoring process is to ask case managers to review several files and discuss the files with them. "We go over what was done and why. When I get a new file on my desk, I’ll look it over and ask them to review it, as well. I’ll explain what I saw and the focus I plan to take with the client during intake. Then, I have them listen as I conduct an intake with the client over the phone and we talk about the answers and the whole thought process."
As case managers are ready to take on their own cases, Racette reviews the case with the new case manager before the case manager makes the intake call. When the call is completed, the case manager comes back to Racette to review what took place. "I ask them what happened and whether the call went as they anticipated. I ask them if they learned any valuable lessons and what they plan to do next on the case."
The mentoring process continues for at least a year, says Racette. "It takes at least six months before a case manager begins to get comfortable and then a new situation will come up that takes them by surprise. Even after several years, I still run into situations that are new to me," says Racette. "The difference is that with years of experience and training behind me I know where to go and what to do to respond to those situations."
And, Racette reviews every file and every piece of correspondence initiated by a new case manager for at least a full year. "I look particularly long at letters to disability claimants which explain what they must do to avoid jeopardizing their benefits," she says. "Long after case managers are comfortably conducting and documenting intakes and developing case management plans, they will remain uncomfortable discussing the long-term disability benefits — the nuances of the claim and what the client can expect from ING."