Aneeta Permaul, a case manager at the Central Community Care Access Centre in north Toronto, thinks of herself as a point guard of the health care system.
She helps her clients – mostly seniors – and their family members navigate the health care system to determine which services and care they need and how to get it.
A day in the life of a Community Care Access Centre case manager
Permaul typically starts each day by checking her voice mail messages as well as a program that sets out tasks for the day. Then she has to prioritize between the messages and tasks, and book home visits for the seniors she works with.
“I was fortunate to realize, ‘Oh! I like working with seniors!’ so I just happened to go in that direction.” —Aneeta Permaul, case manager, Central Community Care Access Centre
During these visits, she assesses or re-assesses her clients to see how they’re doing and determine what kind of personal support services they might need.
Then, she might link them to different community organizations or recommend a visit by an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, social worker or another professional service.
There are a number of different kinds of case managers, however, and they are sometimes also called care coordinators. For example, some case managers, like Permaul, work in the community, while others work at local hospitals, in schools, or in the main CCAC office. And a case manager/care coordinator can be an RN, OT, PT, SLP or MSW. Click here to learn more about case managers/care coordinators.
Permaul says she discovered she loved working with seniors after completing several co-ops during school, where she worked with a variety of patient populations, including children, youth with developmental disabilities, recent immigrants, and seniors.
She earned her master of social work degree from York University in 2007, and previously completed a social service worker diploma at Centennial College and a bachelor of social work at Ryerson University.
Advice from a recent grad CCAC case manager
Permaul says she has two pieces of advice for students and recent grads who are planning to enter the health care field, as case managers or otherwise:
- You’ve got to start from the bottom to get to the top. “I started out by organizing my boss’ filing cabinet. She knew my skills were better than that, so I said, ‘Why do I have to do this?’ And she said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to do it one day for yourself.’ It just prepares you to organize yourself for the future.”
- “Don’t make enemies and just be nice to everyone.”
Questions and answers
Q. What skills or traits are required for your day-to-day work as a Community Care Access Centre case manager?
A. Case management skills. On a regular program, [case managers] have about 100 to 120 people on their case load, so you have to look at people individually, case by case.
We do have guidelines that we have to follow through the CCAC, but you have to use your common sense as well in providing services and seeing what other supports there are. That’s all part of case management.
Another skill that is required is active listening. It’s not just listening and saying, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh…” but also cuing into non-verbals as well as verbals, tone of voice, and all of those kinds of things. You have to find out somehow.
You’re building a rapport with each individual. Some people you have a better rapport with than others, and that’s when some things fall beneath the cracks. These things just come with time and then you can break down any barriers.
Q. How has your education and previous work experience prepared you for your current role?
A. It’s prepared me a lot. After working with such different spectrum of people [through volunteering and co-ops], you figure out who you like working with best and you hone that, and then you hopefully go in that direction.
I was fortunate to realize, “Oh! I like working with seniors!” so I just happened to go in that direction. Everyone has their own skills and specialties.
Q. How can students learn more about working in community-based care?
A. There’s a website called Charity Village that I used to live off of to find out which different non-profit organizations are out there. You end up linking as well, networking. It’s always good to volunteer.
Every agency is somehow linked together with others. If you pick one, you’ll find out that in that small geographic area they’re all linked together because it’s non-profit and you end up partnering a lot. The partnerships are great as well because that’s how you expand and grow and figure out what the needs are within that community.
About Community Care Access Centres
Community Care Access Centres connect people with the care they need, at home and in their communities. CCACs help people find their way through Ontario’s health care system, understand their options and connect them to quality community based health care and resources.
In total, there are 14 CCACs in communities across Ontario that are funded by Local Health Integration Networks through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This means that CCAC advice and services are covered by OHIP.