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Brain injury case management

How SLT expertise enables me to improve lives as a case manager

Helen Ferber-Jarvis discusses her move to fast-growing Keystone Case Management

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Case manager Helen Ferber-Jarvis moved into her new career after ten years as a Speech and Language Therapist. Here, she discusses why her skills in SLT are vital to her role in case management, and why working for Keystone Case Management enables her to continue to develop as a professional

 

Helen, you are from a professional background of a registered Speech and Language Therapist. Why the change to case management?

Before I became a case manager, I was working as a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) within a multidisciplinary community neurological rehabilitation team. Which I loved. The aspect I really enjoyed was finding out from the patient (or client) what was it that mattered the most to them and would help to improve their situation, or move them forward. This was not always the need for a Speech and Language Therapist! I realised that being truly client focused and dealing with the person’s main concerns was what I liked best.

I had worked for ten years as an SLT and instead of increasingly specialising, which is a frequent means of progressing professionally, I constantly seemed to broaden my practice. I have always felt that a person’s life after illness or injury has many related aspects to it, not just one specific component, and as a treating therapist that what was interesting to me. 

I knew about case management through my mother who was a case manager herself and had worked in the sector for most of her career. The role of case manager seemed to encompass what I liked best about my job, so it was a natural next step for me.

Which aspects of your Speech and Language Therapy skills do you think particularly transitions to case management work?

A skill I am most proud of, and which is so useful in my work as a case manager, is the ability to form a working relationship with anyone, but especially someone who has communication difficulties. My SLT experience means that I have met many people who do not find it easy to communicate. Taking the time to gain their trust, understand what matters to them, to make a connection and build rapport is key to making progress.

Did you have a special interest when you worked as a SLT, and are you able to maintain your skills in this area with your current case management case load?

Given my comments to the last question, you will not be surprised to learn that I am especially interested in the language difficulties people can have after experiencing a stroke. Working in community rehabilitation included not only working with stroke survivors but also with people who had acquired neurological conditions or progressive disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease or motor neurone disease.

The skills and knowledge gained help me in my current role with people with similar neurological conditions. It has been especially helpful in appreciating the impact of communication on areas of someone’s life which can be often overlooked or misunderstood.

For example, I observed that a person with aphasia and mild expressive difficulties had a greater difficulty with their reception, or understanding, of what was being said or told them. In front of treating healthcare professionals the person was able to nod and appear to be absorbing the information but in fact, her ability to understand the details was not fully intact as a consequence of her injury. This meant that she was unable to perform crucial daily tasks as prescribed, for example taking medication. Understanding that her greater problem was receiving information meant as her case manager I could ensure steps were taken to assist her with this.

There has been a growth in case management companies in recent years. From the now wide choice available ‘out there’, what attracted you to Keystone Case Management?

Firstly, I knew the team involved in setting up Keystone Case Management (KCM) had a vast amount of experience of the sector and a notably good reputation. That was important to me. KCM was also being supported by the Frenkel Topping Group who were wholehearted in their encouragement and investment.

Secondly, to be honest, I was intrigued and excited by working for a company that was relatively new. I felt that it would present new opportunities but also offer a fresh approach from what was known by asking ‘ what do we need to do to make this work’ and ‘is this the best way of doing things or is there a better way?’

What are the three main positives for you in working for KCM?

  1. Excellent support – since day one I have had whatever support I have needed. Outside of supervision, there is always someone to ask questions of and there is full appreciation that sometimes with such complex issues, case managers just need time to talk through problems. I am trusted that I know how to do my job but can obtain support at any time. There’s no sense of hierarchy just an openness to helping.
  2. Excellent supervision, along with a personalised training development programme 
  3. Opportunities – for a greater scope of work and a mixed, interesting caseload. I particularly want to gain experience of using my mediation skills. 

How do you see your future career developing? Will the Institute of Registered Case Managers (IRCM) feature in this?

I am definitely looking to gain registration with IRCM as soon as possible. Working with KCM provides full support to achieving this, along with aiming for other sector recognised standards of competence.

Outside of work, what is your favourite way to spend your time?

One of my most productive activities is baking. I started a micro bakery during the pandemic making, amongst other things, sourdough goods and cinnamon buns. I continue to have many requests for these. Other than that, I am mainly managed by a small child who determines how my time should be spent!

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