Case Management Models

At the level of individual "clients" or offenders, the project found two approaches to case management in use in correctional systems; typically offenders change from one approach to the other as they pass in and out of custody.

  • An individual-based approach

    prevalent in non-custodial settings
    • Responsibility for a case is assigned to a named, individual case manager.
      • Sometimes this case manager works in an environment where a small group of case managers and support workers  work together to provide continuity and  cover for one another in the event of absence or to respond to acute needs or emergencies.
    • The case manager undertakes an assessment and formulates a plan, or reviews and updates an existing assessment and plan.
    • The case manager makes arrangements with different service providers to access the resources needed to implement the plan, and monitors progress.
      • These interventions may be provided from within the organisation which employs the case manager, or through some form of funding arrangement with an external provider, or they may simply be services and facilities available in the locality to which all citizens have a right of access.
      • The process of making these arrangements is called "brokering".
      • Sometimes the agency makes inter-agency arrangements  or agrees protocols to make this process easier.
      • In some jurisdictions the providers of services have a mandatory or statutory duty to co-operate with the plan.
    • The case manager is (usually) responsible for encouraging and motivating the offender to comply with his or her sentence, and make full use of the available interventions.  Sometimes "motivational interviewing" is provided as a separate "intervention".
    • He or she may also be expected to undertake some individual work with the offender to support specific interventions or to address issues not addressed by an intervention.
    • The case manager is usually responsible for making decisions about whether the offender has complied sufficiently with the sentence, and, if not, for taking enforcement action.
  • A team-based approach

    the common arrangement in custodial settings
    • Responsibility for a case rests with a team of staff, unique to the offender, who are (or who represent) providers of services.
    • An assessment is agreed, usually by drawing together separate assessments made from different professional perspectives.
    • A plan is derived from the assessment.
    • The  assessment and most particularly the plan are commonly arrived at in collaboration with the offender, through some form of meeting, chaired by someone who has more authority than team members.
    • Tasks from within the plan are assigned to each member of the team.
    • Individual team members monitor progress in relation to their own tasks.
    • Monitoring and review of progress of the whole plan is undertaken by periodically reconvening a meeting of the team.
    • Sometimes one person from within the team is assigned the responsibility for day-to-day monitoring of progress of the whole plan and for providing support and encouragement to the offender; in one jurisdiction this is called "driving the plan".  This is a hybrid between a team and an individual-based approach.

Case management can be organised, and the caseload can be segmented, or "streamed" in different ways: 

  • locality or "patch" work:  one or more case managers is assigned all the work arising from one geographical area or neighbourhood and deals with each individual throughout their involvement with the agency and the system.  This is sometimes called "generic working" because the worker needs to be capable of working effectively at all stages, on all tasks and with all offender types
  • specialism by task or by type:
    • task-specialisation occurs when the case management process (ASSESS - PLAN - IMPLEMENT - REVIEW) or the correctional "journey" (PRE-SENTENCE - NON-CUSTODIAL - CUSTODY - SUPERVISED RELEASE) is sub-divided into tasks, stages or sentences and different parts of the process or journey are assigned to different staff.  This is sometimes called "vertical segmentation".  Groups of staff who prepare pre-sentence reports, or focus only upon managing unpaid work, or parole cases are examples
    • type-specialisation occurs when the caseload is sub-divided according to risk (typically, HIGH - MEDIUM - LOW) or offence type (e.g. sexual offending; violent offending) or problem/intervention type (e.g. drug or alcohol treatment; mental ill health)

The "case management model" applied in any jurisdiction is whatever combination of the options above it selects.

The DOMICE project tried to understand which combinations were applied in each jurisdiction, and to help each jurisdiction to understand how their model would impact upon offenders passing through the system. 

Case Management in Europe

We have already seen that "case management" is not a term which refers to a single way of doing things.  At best it describes a family of related approaches. 

The approach or stance taken will differ from case to case.  Case management may, for example, be passive and supportive, or active and assertive.  In DOMICE we have referred to these different approaches as MODES.

Summarising from the research, four different MODES of case management can be identified in correctional work.  Different writers, academics and policy makers sometimes use different words to refer to them.

ADMINISTRATIVE mode: the least intrusive and lowest cost; doing the least necessary to implement the sentence
BROKERAGE mode: a supportive, guiding, linking mode, typical of resettlement work
THERAPEUTIC mode: more intrusive and assertive, including technical intervention(s) like addictions work
COMPREHENSIVE mode: complex, intrusive, including overt control; reserved usually for the most dangerous

The skills and resources needed vary from the low-cost ADMINISTRATIVE mode to the high-cost COMPREHENSIVE mode.  The DOMICE Project tried to find out whether there is a dominant mode in a system or a service, and whether and how different case management MODES are applied to different cases.