Intensive Case Management

Intensive Case Management (ICM) is a case management model similar in function to the Assertive Community Treatment model (ACT). Like ACT, it was originally created for use with behavioral/mental health and addiction recovery clients. Since its inception, ICM has been adopted for other purposes to serve a wider range of clients. ICM is built to accomplish long-term case goals and outcomes over relatively short periods of time, making it an intensive program that is structured similarly to ACT, but tends to involve programming that moves at a faster pace.

Intensive Case Management

Short-Term Recovery

Clients who undergo treatment through ICM are likely to have traumatic backgrounds and mental/behavioral health conditions that need to be addressed. These individuals often have limited support networks, and require additional professional support to learn valuable skills in order to succeed in the future. The goal is to set a reasonable deadline and pursue recovery goals determined by case managers and their clients over as short a period of time as possible. Like an intensive, short-term class in an academic program, this case management model covers a lot of ground rapidly. This can be mentally or physically taxing for clients and their support systems. However, if the client is properly encouraged and has the fortitude and resources to complete the program, ICM can be hugely beneficial, as it reduces “downtime.”

CaseWorthyBecause of its intensive nature, ICM is a unique model required only in specific cases where a client is capable of reaching recovery quickly and would benefit from an accelerated approach. The client may have a time constraint or a specific need that requires the rapid completion of their program. For instance, completing their program may enable them to resolve legal issues, get a job or a home, reunite with family members, or become more able to physically and mentally care for themselves. Whatever the case, ICM is built for the client who needs to undergo deep recovery on a deadline.

Deep Connection

Intensive Case Management relies on the case manager’s ability to build a relationship with the client, determine their needs and help reach their recovery goals quickly. The case manager performs regular checkups on the client with a lot of individual attention. They track their client’s progress, accompany them to appointments, sessions, and classes, and do whatever else they and the client agree is necessary in order to reach the finish line. Other professionals, such as counselors, physical therapists, job trainers, and life coaches may also be involved. Like in an ACT scenario, this model requires a low staff-to-client ratio. Case loads can also be shared among multiple case managers, but aren’t always. The case manager’s relationship with the client will determine what other services the nonprofit organization provides to the client.

CaseWorthyThe case manager can see how much progress the client is making every step of the way and give the client feedback, which can help with achieving a positive outcome. However, it is worth noting that not every client is able to complete an ICM program—sometimes, reaching a recovery goal takes time, or rapid work through a program may not be as beneficial long-term. Again, that is something that case managers and their clients will have to decide together.

Acute Care Option for Many Scenarios

Because of how successful ICM can be if the client is able to succeed in this model, this case management model has branched out to help other clients beyond those with mental/behavioral health challenges. It can also be used as an acute care model for people recovering from surgery or injury and undergoing various forms of therapy to help them get back to full health. The intensive goal may be to get back to active work, be ready for a test or an athletic competition, or gain the ability to live independently after any number of traumatic life events. Certain factors may overlap with rehabilitation-based case management, but one of the biggest differences is the amount of time and services that the nonprofit provides. Given the intensive nature of this case model, case managers and the team of professionals they work with provide on-call care and attention, where many other models do not.

Get Help With Case Management

Nonprofit case management can be a challenging but incredibly rewarding job. It’s up to each organization and case manager to help their clients figure out the best ways to reach their goals, and choosing the case management model can be key to doing so. If you want to learn more about effective case management techniques and how you can do your job to the best of your ability, we have other resources available and would love to talk to you. Visit the other resources on our website today!


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