How to become a Case Manager

Post by Open Colleges on February 25th, 2021

Case Managers play an integral role in the healthcare and community services sectors. 

Case management focuses on identifying the needs of a client and delivering health and social services that can get them the help they need.

If you’re passionate about helping others, are driven, empathetic and determined in promoting the rights and needs of vulnerable people, then a career as a Case Manager could be for you.

What does a Case Manager do?

A Case Manager is someone who works with an individual (and sometimes their family) who is living with mental illness, a disability, a substance abuse disorder or other social problems. The goal of case management is to achieve a better quality of life for the client, often by helping them reach autonomy. This is done through advocacy, communication, education and service facilitation. 

Some of the tasks and responsibilities of a Case Manager include:

  • getting to know the client and understanding their needs
  • establishing which services could benefit the client, and then linking the client with the service
  • arranging appointments
  • developing plans and agreements to help the client, and ensuring these are met
  • setting timelines and goals and reporting on the client’s progress
  • advocating for clients
  • general administrative tasks for reporting and documentation. 

Where do Case Managers work?

Case Managers can work for public, private or non-profit organisations. They usually work within the healthcare or community services industries. They can work in hospitals, clinics, with clients at home, rehabilitation facilities or for organisations that specialise in areas like workers’ compensation. 

Often, Case Managers will have a particular focus. They can work in a preventionist setting and help clients before their needs become acute; or they can work as consultants and educators, helping clients regain control of their lives.

Case Managers usually specialise in a particular area, such as youth work or mental health. So depending on what type of area you focus on will depend on where you work and what your day-to-day looks like. 

Most people who work as Case Managers will tell you there’s no such thing as a typical day. As you’ll be dealing with a number of different clients throughout the day, and all of your clients will have different requirements and needs, every day will be different. As a Case Manager, you’ll always have plenty of variety throughout your day.

Top 5 skills you need as a Case Manager

1. Communication and interpersonal skills

Case Managers need to be great communicators because so much of their work involves dealing with clients face-to-face. As a Case Manager, you need to be able to create rapport with your clients to build trust. You need to be able to relay important information effectively and accurately and make sure that it’s understood. 

But being a good communicator also goes beyond just relaying information. As a Case Manager, you’ll also need to make sure that you’re really listening to your clients when they talk with you and make sure that you understand their needs. You may also have to read between the lines sometimes, and know when to ask the right questions to get the answers you need. 

As well as clients, you’ll also need to be able to effectively communicate with services that can help the client, and connect the client to these services. There’s also the wider healthcare team that you’ll need to liaise with.

2. Organisational skills and time management

As a Case Manager, you’ll be responsible for helping your clients to manage their schedules and organise appointments with services. You’ll also need to keep accurate records of all your clients and how they’re progressing, whether their milestones are being met, and if they’re keeping up with their appointments. 

A Case Manager’s day is also typically pretty jam-packed. This means you’ll need to be good at multi-tasking and managing your own time, as your clients will be relying on you to keep your meetings with them.


3. Conflict resolution skills

Sometimes, you’ll be expected to step in as a mediator for your client. This could be because the client is not acting appropriately or because they feel their needs are not being met or their rights are being violated. 

It will be up to you to resolve the conflict and help everyone to reach a satisfactory conclusion that works. This may involve scheduling a meeting between the different parties, gathering all the facts, and developing a suitable solution.

4. Advocacy 

Simply put, advocacy is about representing the interests of the client. Advocacy is at the core of what a Case Manager does, and it’s a real skill.

Advocacy usually involves organising services for the client and ensuring that their needs are being met. For example, you may need to make sure that they have access to certain services, that they’re being treated fairly, and that the client’s legal rights are being met. Sometimes, you’ll need to investigate gaps or faults in the system that are preventing your client from receiving the right kind of care and support. This means you’ll need a working knowledge of the laws and regulations that surround these services. 

As part of your case management, you will probably also need to teach your clients about how to advocate for themselves. This will help empower them to live independently and feel more confident in themselves. 

5. Understanding

Many of your clients will come from a range of different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. It’s important for you to be able to empathise with them and understand where they’re coming from. This will help you better understand your client’s needs and ensure that you’re able to address their issues with sensitivity and compassion. This will give you the benefit of helping them to the full extent of your abilities, and ensuring they get the support they need to feel empowered.  

Do I need a degree to become a Case Manager? 

You don’t need a qualification to become a Case Manager. However, a VET qualification in community services could help you find work in this area. 

OC offers the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services as an online course, which means you can fit your study around your life’s other commitments. 

This course could also act as a pathway into university if you’re thinking of pursuing further study. OC’s partnership with Charles Sturt University means that you could complete the Diploma of Community Services and use this qualification as credit towards the Bachelor of Human Services (with specialisations) or the Bachelor of Social Work. 

What are you waiting for? Enrol with OC today and take the first steps towards a fulfilling and rewarding career empowering vulnerable people.


Community Health & community
Open Colleges
By Open Colleges