Case study: understanding new best practice for Immediate Needs Assessments

In case management, the Immediate Needs Assessment (INA) is critical for offering the best support to help critically injured clients recover as much as possible following their return home. Here, Jenny Cooper, case manager at Unite Professionals, outlines how our team have determined best practice methods for undertaking INAs under the current COVID-19 restrictions.

A few months ago, my client suffered a significant road traffic accident and upon returning home, he moved in with his mother who was able to provide support during his transition. We recognised the urgent need to provide support for each of them, as well as the challenge of offering safe support whilst gathering all the information we rely on to provide the most effective rehabilitation and a plan for their way of life.

Typically, my process of completing the INA involves physically observing the client doing activities, discussing their concerns and challenges and building rapport with them to comfort them and help them become confident in their abilities throughout the rehabilitation process. This session is usually two to two-and-a-half-hours and is quite informal.

Obviously, due to the lockdown, meeting in person was not possible for this client. I had a conversation with Jo Evans, MD of Unite Professionals, and we agreed that a video call would be the best option. Although this was necessary, I was quite wary going in as video chat prohibits much of the atmosphere of traditional INAs as well as limits what I can observe of the client’s abilities and environment.

I offered for the videos to take place in three sessions, rather than one long one, but the client felt confident that one session of one-and-a-half hours would be preferable. I reassured them that the video chat would not be recorded and we chose WhatsApp because it is securely encrypted.

I realised that the prep work for a remote INA was vital in this circumstance, as I would need to be fully aware of the situation to guide my questions effectively in the shorter time span. Typically, I go into an INA almost empty handed so that I can objectively assess and react to their situation, but with the shorter session and limited ability to observe their activities, I decided it was crucial to access as much information as possible in advance, including medical reports, clinic notes and X-rays.

Video chats do tend to feel a bit more formal than in-person conversations, but we all managed to relax and freely communicate after a while.

We were all pleased with the results of the final report and I am confident that it expressed the situation accurately and outlined the client’s needs effectively. I have now completed numerous other virtual INAs and am becoming more comfortable with the process. I’ve found that it’s helpful to have the option for another person to hold the camera in order to show them completing tasks. I have learned that I can adapt, be flexible and use IT systems and still provide sufficient case management services and a clear INA. It is so rewarding to be able to help.

“Wow! What an amazing job you have done, just brilliant, how on earth you got all that information like that, such a talented Case Manager, and an absolutely lovely lady too, you were so great to talk to and my son really liked you too!  What an absolute credit you are to Unite Professionals.”

-Mother of client

Unite Professionals is continuing to improve our remote INA offerings and we are all learning new best practice to keep our clients safe while supporting their recovery. Contact our team to discuss your needs.