Collaborative Approach: Keeping the Client front and centre

Collaborative working is key to achieving the best possible outcome for clients during their rehabilitation journey but experience has shown us that sometimes the most important person in that journey is not always front and centre. At Unite Professionals, our approach places the client at the heart of their own journey.

The path following life changing injury is often long and complex, will involve multiple agencies and can be physically and mentally traumatic.

A client who has suffered serious injury will suddenly find themselves in an altered world filled with strangers. They will have experienced input from numerous healthcare professionals, be learning to understand their own physical changes and abilities and be dealing with a change in perception of themselves from family and friends.

The introduction of another individual must be an easy transition for the client, to ensure that they are subject to as few additional stressors as possible.

Forming a trusting, honest, working relationship between client and case manager is a vital starting point. When the foundations of that relationship are in place, they can begin to cascade outward to the support services.

An Aligned Approach

The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) should be able recognise the importance of being able to understand the ways different professionals approach their respective fields of work and how collaboratively they can work together. But it is often challenging as different therapists will have very different approaches and professional boundaries.

In an ideal world, all parties would come together on a regular basis to meet, discuss the client and how to move the rehabilitation plan forward together. But this is not always possible and very much depends on the size of the MDT, their relationships with one another, their locations and availability, and the engagement by the client in their own therapy. This is again where the case manager role is vital as they act as a conduit between all parties to facilitate an effective approach to rehabilitation.

One of my clients as an inpatient had lots of services in place. The pace of the hospital environment is fast, meaning contact with the client was rapid and often left him not knowing what may be next or how the services fitted together. Upon discharge we sought to work out which services should remain in place and which would be better being transferred elsewhere. This created an effective MDT made up of both statutory and private services that we can work with together

Rachel Bussell, OT & CM

Communication is key

Regular communication, and a clear honest approach towards the client helps them understand their aspirations and limitations, and manage their expectations of their long-term outcomes.

Presenting clinical rationale to support (or not) the recommendations of the therapy services involved to the Solicitors and Third-Party Insurers is of great importance and direct contact between the legal teams and therapists is not common so reports should be clear, and outline the treatment plan and length and the costs involved. The decision to progress or not after all lies with the TPI. Inaccuracies or lack of understanding could jeopardise the client’s ability to access funds for therapy that may greatly benefit them.

Rachel Bussell & Rachel Culyer

Rachel Bussell, Occupational Therapist and Case Manager for Unite Professionals says, “a good rapport and regular contact helps the client and their legal team understand what is going on behind the scenes. The needs of the client are of paramount importance as are the need for regular updates, with clear clinical rationale. A verbal relationship is often more productive than a written as timings between hospital letters can often present an issue as sometimes, they are out of date before they are received. Communication is key and without this you cannot provide a productive service for your client”. 

At Unite Professionals we pride ourselves on being able to actively demonstrate a collaborative approach to working to provide a best possible outcome for the client.

Thank you to Rachel Culyer and Rachel Bussell for sharing their extensive knowledge of collaborative working as Unite Professionals Case Managers. You can view their professional profiles here