Unite Professionals Annual Conference

When we closed the doors on our 2019 annual conference in Manchester, we had no idea that our next one would be subject to such different parameters. Or the one after that. The last 20 months have taught us so much about alternative methods of coming together as a group to keep our work family in touch and in the know, but our strong ethos of working and learning together has allowed us to explore options that we had never considered before.


Towards the end of October, we closed our laptop lids on our second virtual conference. It was a tough decision to make to not be hotel based when so many of us are suffering online fatigue and are in much need of face to face interaction, but we paid attention to the needs and wellbeing of our staff, associates and speakers in relation to the ongoing pandemic and worked hard over many months to put together a more compact online event with content that was current and informative  to ensure that our delegates had spent their time online well.

With progression of the Institute of registered Case managers it felt appropriate to remind ourselves of our CMSUK Standards and the personal specification required to demonstrate a full appreciation of the complex role that a Case manager commands. The conference was organised with this in mind to provide an objective and deeper understanding of the roles that the many different parties play in the progression of a personal injury case and the framework that supports it, we looked to two of our long-standing connections and were delighted to welcome Richard Kayser of Irwin Mitchell, and Vanessa Jamieson and Darren Bucys of RSA Insurance to our stage.Giving great insight into medico legal reports, Richard was able to help our delegates understand more about the purpose of the reports and their link to the Case Management process within the complex structure that makes up a clinical negligence case. 

Vanessa and Darren looked at joint settlement meetings and how the information provided by Case managers assists both parties in compiling and evidencing the rationale to collate a schedule of loss to be presented for negotiation during a JSM and in guiding an appropriate settlement figure. This session focussed on the defendant insurers perspective, building on a session provided earlier this year by Lauren Hurney of Irwin Mitchell who presented from the perspective of a claimant solicitor. Both sessions were recognised by conference delegates for being relevant to case management work and in increasing the insight of our rehabilitation co ordinators and medical records team on how important their roles are in this process. All agreed it is informative to understand how clinical and financial information gleaned from the input of Case management and associated rehabilitation is used to support evidence for all parties to reference in their role of agreeing a settlement figure that is as representative as possible of the challenges the client faces.

The Creativity of Case Management

Of course, it has not just been the method of conference delivery that has changed. The delivery of Case Management and the therapeutic services our Case Managers work with has changed beyond what anyone could ever have foreseen. It is a pre-requisite of a Case Manager to have the ability to think outside the box, be creative and look for windows of opportunity in the most obscure of places and that has certainly been put to the test!Under normal circumstances Case Managers have the responsibility of assisting and advocating for their clients during their transition in to post accident life (and beyond) but during the last 20 months the Case Managers and the staff that support them have had significant periods during more stringent lockdown protocols where we have all needed to transition to a different and more restrictive way of working and living. It became even more essential that they had the support structure in place from the clinical team within Unite to be able to continue supporting their clients, whilst juggling home working, home schooling and caring for loved ones.

Resourcefulness is an art, and in a time where resources quickly became limited and a new approach to ensuring the client received as balanced as possible programme of rehabilitation made the Case Managers role more important than ever before. Much of what we have learnt of ourselves, our systems and the clients we support will enhance our practice going forward , so every cloud has a silver lining.

This has been further recognised through Joanna Fletcher Smiths recent award of CMSUK Catastrophic Case Manager of the Year when she presented a case study for the judge’s consideration that demonstrated her dedication to her work and ability during the pandemic to think and act quickly to rehabilitate a client who began his journey with Joanna bed bound, and very unwell with compromised physical and mental health. With the installation of home-based and online therapies, and ongoing support from Joanna, this remarkable gentleman is now able to consider returning to work.

Dr Joanna Fletcher-Smith

Unite Professionals have and will continue to provide individuals who have suffered life changing injuries an opportunity to rehabilitate by adhering to their principal Vision, Mission and Values statement, underpinned by CMSUK and CQC guidelines and will continue to support Case Managers and staff to ensure best possible outcomes for all the clients we are privileged to know. This sentiment was reflected in both the opening address of the conference by Jo Evans, Managing Director and the closing address and road a head discussion lead by Robin Pickard, Head of Operations.

Continued investment into our bespoke case management system, our customer relationships and our people will ensure that Unite Professionals will remain leaders in our field of expertise.

Until 2022 (when our dancing shoes will once again be firmly on our feet), thank you for all who attended our conference and make our events what they are.