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Rehabilitation 2019

Why case management is valuable for clients with catastrophic injury

Alison Barker

Managing Director, Independent Living Soloutions (ILS)

A good case manager is central to a person’s rehabilitation journey, particularly if following a life-changing injury. But what is their role — and why is it so important?

Nineteen-year-old Ellis lives a full life. He never lets the fact that he has cerebral palsy hold him back.

Ellis loves going to the pub, socialising with friends and family, going on holiday and watching football and rugby.

Key to Ellis’ life is his case manager, Janine, who has worked with him since he was six. Janine’s job is to support Ellis to live his life the way he wants to live it. Over the years that she has supported him, she has seen him develop into a remarkable young man.

“Ellis’s sociability has been a constant, but in the past two years he has really developed his organisational skills,” reveals Janine.

“He’s taken an interest in actually managing some of his own affairs, has his own bank account and manages some of his own funds. He has a role in shift planning and can make the long-term changes that he wants. He’s planning a much wider range of activities.”

Supporting people to lead fulfiling lives after injury

Janine works for Independent Living Solutions Ltd, a company that is instructed by solicitors to provide case management for people in need of specialist rehabilitation care while their litigation cases are ongoing.

“Many of our clients have sustained a catastrophic injury, either through accident or clinical negligence,” says Alison Barker, Managing Director.

“The aim is to return them to a fulfiling life and to empower them to do as much as they can for themselves as they recover and adjust to the effects of their injuries.”

To Ellis, Janine is more than just a case manager.

Case management — as defined by the Case Management Society UK — is “a collaborative process, which assesses, plans, implements, co-ordinates, monitors and evaluates the options and services required to meet an individual’s health, social care, educational and employment needs.”

Alison believes that this is the best way to rehabilitate anyone after a catastrophic injury. “It’s the case manager’s role to liaise with different stakeholders,” she says. “Without them pulling the different strands together, things would be fragmented.”

A client-focused service to meet rehabilitation goals

A case manager’s day is varied, but may include agreeing goals with clients, reviewing care teams, liaising with rehab therapists, organising carer training and making sure that adaptive equipment is functioning properly.

In the best scenarios, case managers will work with a fairly small group of clients: approximately four to six. “That way, they know their clients and their families inside out, so that when things aren’t going so well case managers can take the lead in finding a solution,” says Alison.

There are two key elements to creating a good case management service, says Alison. The first is making sure it is always client-focused (“Clients need to be at the centre of everything).

The second is expertise: “Case managers must be experienced healthcare professionals,” she insists. “They must have the right skillset to cope with the challenges of working with people whose lives have been irrevocably changed by catastrophic injury.”

Yet, to Ellis, Janine is more than just a case manager. “We can talk about anything,” he says. On their working relationship Janine reports: I am never surprised by anything Ellis does but I am on occasions, absolutely thrilled with what he’s achieved and some of the things he wants to do.”

Thanks to his growing sense of independence and confidence, Ellis is currently organising a city break. “I’m in the process of planning a weekend away in London to watch England and New Zealand then be there for Remembrance Sunday,” he says. “I’d like to thank Janine and my carers for getting me to this stage.”

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