When a case manager begins to work with someone following a catastrophic injury they become a key part of that person’s life; a new life that they are learning to navigate as they begin to engage in rehabilitation.
In simple terms, a Child Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service case manager will assess a child or young person following the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) to understand their complex needs. They’ll then plan the rehabilitation needed insuring it involves all aspects of the child’s life, both today and in the future as they grow up. This includes implementing the rehabilitation plan, co-ordinating services and monitoring and evaluating the rehabilitation, services and support.
Underneath all this though, they become integral to not only the child or young person’s life but their family. It’s for this reason that choosing the right case manager is one of the most important steps in a person’s future following a catastrophic injury.
We spoke to Toby Beck, specialist child brain injury case manager having worked with children and young people for over 27 years and qualifying as a social worker in 2002, about the importance of choosing the right case manager.
“To find the right case manager you need to think wider than just a specific profession. Experience and registration, the locality in order to be able to respond in a crisis etc. is clearly essential but a specific profession to tackle one particular need may be too short sighted; meeting specific needs is always addressed as part of the treating team. What’s key is considering the case manager’s skills set and their background as well as the type of person they are.
This needs to be considered with a number of things in mind – the type of injury, the age of the client, their gender, ethnicity, diversity etc. You need to consider the needs of your client but what their life is like and what can be done to improve it. The wider family context plays a part too and so getting to know the client and their family in terms of how they have been living, their community and their experiences at school etc. all forms part of finding the perfect match.
One type doesn’t fit all
Moving forwards after a catastrophic injury is incredibly stressful and confusing for the child or young person and their family and no situation is ever the same. Clients’ needs change too, especially with children. They continue to grow and transition through the stages of life but they are doing so now with an ABI. Case management is new to everyone involved and throughout the rehabilitation and litigation process it can have a significant impact on someone’s life. Before their injury they had probably never heard of case management, let alone considered how it would bring new people into their life, their family home, school and community.
The most effective approach to beginning case management and finding the perfect match is to empower the client (where appropriate) and their family by offering them choice – view CVs, plan in some meet and greet sessions and really get a feel for this new person who will become a part of their lives. This helps the family to feel in control at a time when everything may feel it’s spiralling out of control and out of their hands. The litigation and rehabilitation process can be long and trust should play a huge part – trust in the case manager to support them on the journey, the complicated questions, the tough decisions and the dark days…as well as the good!
Face to face is best
We’d always encourage a ‘meet and greet’ session. You don’t start a job without an interview of some sort; you don’t buy a house without viewing it so why would you welcome someone into your family to support you through significant change without meeting them?
A meet and greet is where the case manager can talk about them as a person, their approach and their experience. They can ask questions and give the family a clear overview of the service and what to expect.
The case manager can also identify the child or young person’s needs, what they want, what are their hopes and aspirations, what do they like, what’s currently working and what isn’t. At this meeting we aim to be establishing what is important to them and what is important for them. We never make promises we can’t keep but we can work with the family to explore goals, changes, improvements, always keeping at the heart of decisions the child. Sometimes what’s important is complex and their injuries act as a barrier, as do the effects of that injury such as pain, fatigue, anxiety but sometimes what’s important is something simple like being able to go on family walks in the park or to a friends house to play.
A good case manager will always be diligent, professional, effective and efficient but they’ll also have personable qualities too. They’ll be sensitive to what is happening around them, compassionate, understanding and consistent. Resilience is vital and coupled with a can do approach, creativity and thinking outside of the box really is the best approach.
As well as becoming a central part of the family, they also have a job to do. They must remain cost aware and goal focused, organised and aware of the whole process that the family is going through and how this can impact on outcomes and rehabilitation goals.
The family will be traumatised and they’ll have emotions to deal with. The case manager needs to empower everyone involved to act in the best interests of the child and family.
So, what is the perfect match?
I couldn’t draw a picture of the perfect case manager if I’m honest. In every household across the country that picture would be different or if it was a cake recipe, the finished cake would turn out different every time. The key factor is that the picture hangs beautifully in that particular home, matching its surroundings or the cake tastes perfect to a particular person.
You’ll only find that perfect match through meet and greets, considering the case manager for more than just their previous roles and empowering the child, young person and family to be part of the decision. Only then will you know you’ve got it right.
To find out more about our dedicated, specialist case managers within the Child Brain injury Rehabilitation Service email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our website www.cbirs.co.uk or call 01327 223817.