Staff Spotlight: Brendan Chambers, Case Manager

What was your introduction to the world of guardianship?  

In my previous position I worked at a group home in Boston, Massachusetts as the Residential Coordinator. I oversaw the direct care staff that served five clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). During this time, I needed to maintain consistent communication with all five client’s guardians. Two of the guardians were family members and three were State guardians. I learned the type of information the guardians would request, the level of involvement in their clients’ care, and the many different types of consents that are needed to act as guardian.  

How do you help an individual transition into guardianship?  

Consistent, clear, and transparent communication is key to a seamless transition. This establishes a level of respect and understanding between myself and my client. I also try to establish clear boundaries between the client and myself. I aim to give them validity and support in all of their concerns, no matter how big or small.  

What skills or experiences did you bring to the position?  

I have professional experience working directly with clients and their direct care staff. This helps me to be understanding of the expectations of home health aides and nursing home staff. I have also worked with a variety of clients who require different levels of care ranging from those who have complete autonomy over their life and others who need one-to-one assistance with every activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activity of daily living (IADL). I also have a background in managing and implementing crisis interventions from my experience working at a suicide helpline, so I know how to remain calm and how to provide guidance and support during emergency situations, which we can see a lot of. Lastly, I received my degree in developmental psychology, so I have a basic understanding of how our clients change and develop over time which helps me gain insight into how my clients are adapting to that change. 

What is your day-to-day like as a Case Manager at Project Guardianship? 

I first start my day by looking at my calendar to see if there are any client visits. All my nursing home visits are done at the end of the month and community visits are done at the start. I do this because my clients who live in the community have less support than those who are living in a nursing home or facility with 24/7 care. This way, I have time remaining in the month to address any concerns of these clients. I also try my best to schedule my visits in clusters based on location. If there are no visits, I try to base my day around benefits management or other follow-up items from our previous team meeting. Something can come up and completely change the trajectory of my day, so it’s important to always be adjusting as priorities change. 

How do you face the challenges of being a Case Manager?  

Simply put, I follow the golden rule. We serve a very vulnerable population and if I were in a position where I had to depend on someone that I did not know to manage my affairs, I would hope that they were taking diligent steps to ensure my best interests were at the forefront of their decisions and work. I try to do the same in my work for every client.  

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?  

It may seem very cliché but accomplishing something that a client has been waiting on for a while and seeing the happiness of the client is very rewarding. Things can move slowly given all the hurdles we have to overcome such as caseload pulling me in different directions, government hurdles (re: benefit management), arduous housing searches for clients and all the waiting that needs to happen. When one of these items gets resolved, the look of happiness and relief on our clients’ faces makes all the work I do on my end worth it. 

What is one thing you would like people to know about guardianship?  

I have two main takeaways. First, that sometimes having a guardian is a completely necessary component in an individual’s life. Having someone who can help apply for benefits, manage appointments and monitor finances can be the catalyst for an individual to have a drastic change to their quality of life in a positive way as these tasks can become increasingly more difficult as an individual changes in life with age and/or new medical diagnoses. Second, guardianship can be an extremely complex system to be involved in for both the person in need of a guardian and the loved ones involved in this person’s life. I hope for people to understand that there are supportive institutions like Project Guardianship in place to provide support and guidance through this life change for everyone involved in an individual’s care.