1. It takes at least 6 months of full time case managing to get really good at being a case manager, sometimes longer. It doesn't matter how long you've been a nurse or under what circumstances you've practiced, home care is another beast.
2. You have all the tips, tricks, and tools at your disposal to help patients change their lives and live better--but only if they choose to do so. You will not be able to help them all, but you must try anyway. Sometimes, just when you're ready to give up, they have an epiphany that you really are trying to help them and they start making an attempt at being compliant. And sometimes, no matter what you do, no matter what you teach, they will not change their lifestyles. It's not about you.
3. The OASIS is not just a bunch of questions that you can take at face value. There is a whole lot more that is counter-intuitive and you have to understand what the questions are really asking, not what they appear to be asking. There is a rationale to it, it's just really hard to understand. But once you get it, you really get it. Don't get upset with the QA or clinical review nurse who tries to talk to you about your scoring--it's not personal and it's not about you. It's about outcomes and to a lesser extent, payment. Keep an open mind and try to learn why your scores are being questioned.
4. Learn about your co-workers. They will be your best help or worst enemies, depending on your relationship. They can help you learn about your patients or let you sink because you're the "know-it-all" case manager. Tandem visits with a PT, OT, ST, or HHA can help you understand more about your patient.
5. If you don't already have a GPS, get one. You will need it. And keep the maps updated. And a car charger for your cell phone. If you don't already have an unlimited minutes plan, you will probably need to change or risk overage charges.
6. Take the time each weekend to go through your supplies, removing anything that's expired and making a list of what you need to pick up from the supply closet at the office. Make sure that you have everything you need for the upcoming week. A little bit of planning and organization will save you a lot of back-tracking later. Keep extra paperwork, pens, pencils, batteries, anything that you use regularly in your trunk.
Best of luck to you!