ALCA was originally formed in 1985 as the “National Association of Private Geriatric Care Managers® (NAPGCM).” Membership consisted of approximately 50 members (mostly nurses and social workers), who were business owners and who had a minimum of a Master’s Degree in a Human Resource Management field and two years of supervised experience in a geriatric care setting. The association was seen as a trade association -- one dedicated to growing the businesses of members and to position those members to capture a large market share of this newly emerging field called “geriatric care management.”
NAPGCM was the first to represent the pioneers in a growing and developing field and has had its share of challenges along the way. Building a profession from the ground up is never easy, nor is it easy to build an association to represent and lead that profession. NAPGCM has been fortunate to have enlightened leaders who are dedicated to growing the profession and the association.
In 1993, NAPGCM recognized that the face of care management was not exclusively in the entrepreneurial arena. It was noted that non-profit agencies had been providing services in this area, as were individuals with baccalaureate degrees. In that same year, the NAPGCM membership voted to change the association’s name from National Association of Private Geriatric Care Managers to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers and to expand the voting membership base to include those individuals who provide care management in all practice settings and those with a minimum of a baccalaureate degree.
As NAPGCM changed the profile of the association to match that of the profession, the association moved from being a trade association with the primary purpose of positioning and promoting member practices to a professional association with the primary purpose of advancing the profession.
The next step in the development of the profession came when NAPGCM and Connecticut Community Care worked together to create a credentialing program for care managers. In 1996, together with eight aging network associations, they developed and initially funded the National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM).
As care management evolved, so did several other “case management” associations. Fragmentation of the profession was inevitable, as no one professional truly understood the complexities of the environment of the future. The health care environment also was changing. Managed care began to infiltrate the American health care system as never before. A variety of assisted living facilities began to offer services to compete with nursing homes. Organized coalitions of health care providers began to form as they positioned themselves to work within or outside of the managed care market.
“Care management” was becoming recognized as “the holistic approach” to dealing with the needs of clients and a wide range of needs, including medical, financial, social, housing, family and personal needs. As the face of care management was changing, the association and the profession began to change as well. Technology, in the form of the NAPGCM website, webinars, member listserv, and social media, has enhanced members’ and consumers’ access to information. New products and conferences provide the tools with which members can improve their businesses and stay abreast of the latest trends in their profession.
The next significant step for NAPGCM and its members took place in August 2006, when members voted to approve a new requirement that all members in the care manager category (currently called “Advanced Professional” category) must hold at least one of four approved certifications. The approved certifications include Care Manager Certified (CMC), Certified Case Manager (CCM), Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM), and Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM). This requirement became effective as of January 1, 2010.
Certification became the bellwether of professional geriatric care management. By voting to approve this membership requirement, the profession was elevated and practitioners were recognized as having a specific knowledge and expertise. This also elevated consumer confidence in the services provided by NAPGCM members.
The next bold step in the evolution of the profession was taken in 2014, when NAPGCM hired a branding consultant to evaluate the association, its brand, and the profession it represented. After extensive research, evaluations, surveys, and discussions, the board approved a sweeping plan to reposition and rebrand the association and the profession. Effective May 1, 2015, the association began operating under a new name: Aging Life Care Association® (ALCA). Members are referred to as “Aging Life Care Professionals®.”
ALCA has nine regional chapters. Until 2013, they were all independent nonprofit corporations. Chapters began to merge with the National association as a way to streamline their operations and free up volunteer time that could be spent providing members with more benefits and educational opportunities. By the beginning of 2016, five of the nine chapters will have joined National.
The ALCA Board of Directors continues to meet the demands of the changing senior services environment through careful strategic planning, education, digital marketing and public relations, chapter support, and communication with its members and the public.