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Care Manager At New Canaan's Waveny LifeCare Manages 'Unthinkable' Issues

Joan Merrill is a  Geriatric Care Manager for Waveny LifeCare Network, and serves clients throughout Fairfield County.
Joan Merrill is a Geriatric Care Manager for Waveny LifeCare Network, and serves clients throughout Fairfield County. Photo Credit: Contributed

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Managing a loved one’s care can be overwhelming, to say the least. When situations move quickly and require immediate decisions, professional care managers such as Joan Merrill in New Canaan can bridge the gaps among seniors, their families and the healthcare system to streamline complexities, coordinate care and respond to emergency events.

“I know the system and how to cut through the red tape,” Merrill said. “I make it my business to know the right resources to enlist, professionals to engage, and direction to provide. It’s what I do.”

A seasoned Geriatric Care Manager who works with private clients throughout Fairfield County, Merrill has provided this service for over a decade now through Waveny LifeCare Network, a nonprofit continuum of eldercare based in New Canaan.

She describes her style of Care Management as “multi-disciplinary by nature,” combining a thorough understanding of today’s ever-changing healthcare system with patient advocacy, counseling, social work and nursing savvy.

“What I do is especially important when ‘The Unthinkables’ occur – those things you hope will never happen, but which too often do,” she said.

“The Unthinkables” may include a sudden illness, a change in health or cognition, an unexpected hospitalization or a hospital release without any clear discharge plan in place.

“These situations are almost always complicated, highly stressful and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved,” Merrill said.

They’re also the right times to engage care management. With multiple clinicians, medications, legal and medical recommendations, differences in opinion and heightened emotions, she says a geriatric care manager will take the lead in care coordination to make decisions easier for everyone involved.

It's especially needed, she says, in circumstances when the family is far removed from the older adult.

“When you add in a factor of distance, things can really get disjointed or lost in translation,” said Merrill, who adds that the degree of confusion, potential for miscommunication, and likelihood of re-hospitalization also become much greater. In these cases, having an objective professional present to advocate, oversee and coordinate is essential.

“In some respects I’m almost like a professional oldest daughter,” Merrill said with regard to her job’s dynamic. “Someone with a devout concern for the older adult, who always has their best interests at heart and a passion for achieving the right outcome.”

As part of Waveny LifeCare Network, Merrill can provide her clients with a unique, additional benefit – immediate access to Waveny’s comprehensive network of renowned eldercare services, programs, and living options. “Whether it’s home care, rehabilitative services, outpatient, short- or long-term care, Waveny has it covered, and I can facilitate access.”

“I have the strength of an entire network behind me,” Merrill said. “And that’s a pretty powerful thing.”

To learn more about Geriatric Care Management, call 203-594-5396 or visit waveny.org.

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