After being in a serious car accident, or suffering from a serious injury, there can be so many things to navigate – the insurance and legal systems, rehabilitation appointments, surgeries, financial instability, time off work…. I could go on. Adjusting to losses can be challenging enough, without considering all the other things that need to be dealt with.
Stephanie Caissie Scoular, a Case Manager with modernOT, answered some questions and shared tips on how to be your own case manager.
Julia: Can you explain the role of the case manager?
Stephanie: Case managers coordinate a person’s rehabilitation to optimize their recovery. While case management is usually provided to people who have serious and complex injuries and who have many different therapists involved, I think that some of the principles of case management can benefit everyone.
A coordinated team approach and inter-linked goals are some of the most important aspects of case management. A team approach can help you return to your highest level of function. For example, your physiotherapist may be working on range of motion, but what does this mean for your daily life? Is your OT helping you return to leisure activities to manage depression? What can you participate in that can bridge these two goals?
Goals and recommendations from doctors or psychologists can sometimes be hard for someone to implement. In the safe space of a clinic or theoretical discussion, these recommendations can seem manageable, but can seem insurmountable in the face of daily life. Case managers can help put these things into practice.
Case managers help with paperwork, scheduling appointments, receiving and distributing reports, keeping in touch with the insurer and lawyer – all to ensure a smooth process in your recovery.
Julia: When you take on a new client, are there things that you do first in order to help the client/set them up on the right track?
Stephanie: The first thing I do is meet the client and talk about their situation, their goals for recovery, and learn more about the professionals they have seen so far. Often people have done their best to set-up their own rehabilitation services, but have not been able to find the experts needed for their care. It’s important to find the people who have the right expertise for the injury.
It’s also good to make sure there are no outstanding medical needs that need to be further addressed.
Julia: Are there any tips that you would offer someone who is going to an appointment and is worried about getting overwhelmed with all the information presented?
Stephanie: A case manager typically attends specialist medical appointments. Most people wait months (or even over a year!) for some appointments and there are often many questions and issues to be raised. A case manager helps the client prepare and keep track of the information provided, as well as to implement any recommendations.
Here are my practical suggestions for your next appointment:
- Take a notebook with you. Do some preparation in advance and list the name of the doctor, and the date. Make a bulleted list of the important information you want the doctor to know, and then make a numbered list of your questions, in order of priority.
- Often doctors ask “how are you doing?” Try not to waste time telling them everything that is going on. Stick to the relevant topics and refer to your list.
- Take someone with you to take notes you can refer to later. They can just be your “second set of ears.” Or, ask the doctor to summarize the three most important “take home” messages before the appointment ends.
Julia: Anything else that you think would be important to know if someone is trying to be their own Case Manager?
Stephanie: When you have an open file with an insurer and/or a lawyer, I think it’s very important that the therapists working with you complete reports periodically. This can act as objective evidence of your ongoing difficulties. But it also tracks your efforts and hard work to get better.
Reports can also help educate others, like rehab team members, about your injuries and their effects. I would also make sure these reports are shared with your primary doctor.
Also, ask your therapists to connect once in awhile, or have a joint session so that your rehab team members know what each other are working on. All of this can help make sure you are getting the best care, and hopefully making the best progress, possible.