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Meet the case manager: Lisa Honan, Emma Way Associates

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Case management is an increasingly important element of getting the most effective rehabilitation outcomes for those who have sustained a catastrophic injury. It also provides important input into the litigation process, as lawyers rely more and more on the approach adopted by reliable case managers in an individual’s rehabilitation.

Today we talk to an experienced case manager, Lisa Honan, from Emma Way Associates who manages a number of catastrophically injured clients.

Before specialising in case management at EWA, Lisa was an OT for over 20 years in both primary and secondary care settings, including working in the Central England Rehabilitation Unit with people who had sustained highly complex physical and cognitive difficulties as a consequence to a brain injury.   

We asked Lisa how vital a role case management plays in neuro rehabilitation.

She said: “Clients who have experienced life changing injuries generally need a lot of guidance and support which is why a case manager is so important.

“A case manager needs a broad understanding of the injured person so that they can access the best services and support.

“There is a lot of equipment available and also professional help, but clients need assistance and the know-how to access these and for everything to be organised, managed and coordinated efficiently.

“Individuals also need someone who is going to be able to advocate for them to access the best services.

“That’s where a case manager can really help. It’s about knowing the road map to those services, understanding the litigation process and what solicitors require from a case management programme to get the best outcomes for their clients.” 

So, what should someone look for in appointing a case manager?

“A case manager needs to have a broad base of experience which is clearly evidenced, but in particular they need to be a team player, have empathy and above all be able to communicate well.

“Our clients have had a catastrophic injury which may well have destroyed their life as they knew it.

“They need our time and understanding and we need to be able to offer emotional, as well as practical, support to them and their loved ones at what is an extremely challenging time.

“It can be immensely frustrating for them so being patient is essential.

Gaining the client’s trust means that they know you have their best interests at heart, therefore being able to establish a good relationship is vital.”

Lisa shared with us how she works as a case manager within the team.

“Regular multi-disciplinary team meetings are an absolute must.

“This ensures that there is good communication within the MDT and also means that all therapists and care professionals can co-ordinate the approach taken and are working together to get the best outcomes for the client.

“Clinical reasoning assists with justifying the approach we have taken for the client’s legal team, so it’s important this is considered at MDT level and recorded.”

We asked Lisa if she had faced any particular challenges when managing the MDT.

“We have significant input into the litigation process and sometimes I have found that there is a reticence for some clinicians or therapists to engage fully in how the multi-disciplinary approach is not only better for the client’s long-term rehabilitation but for also ensuring that the financial settlement that they are entitled to post injury is the right one for them.

Some therapists find the MDT approach more of a challenge as they are more used to working in isolation.

“But as with most things, good communication helps overcome these challenges so that we all learn the benefits of a team approach.”

As with any job there are the challenges but there are also the rewards and there is no doubt in Lisa’s mind that case management can really be a truly rewarding career.

Lisa shared with us one of the most rewarding outcomes she has achieved as a case manager. 

I was told by one of my clients, who had been reflecting with his wife on his rehabilitation and litigation journey, that, without my support, they did not think their marriage would have survived that period of devastation, upheaval and adjustment.

“I feel that this really illustrates the benefit of the practical and emotional support we provide to our clients.

“I love being part of their journey and reducing the burden on them as much as possible.” 

So, would Lisa recommend a move into case management and is it suitable for anyone with a healthcare background?

“Absolutely! It is a job where you really do feel you can make a difference to someone’s quality of life. 

“As long as you have  a sound knowledge of how healthcare works, case management can definitely be a career option.

“You need to be organised, assertive but understanding and proactive, a problem solver and to recognise that each professional in the room is important.

“Often you don’t know the answer to a question, but you will know someone to ask who does.” 

Lisa clearly feels that it’s all about the team. So what makes EWA a special place to work?

“EWA is a really dynamic team where we all feel valued. They truly are a lovely bunch of people. Everyone is clinically very experienced and extremely engaged in the team approach.

“There is a high expectation to ensure the client is at the centre of all decisions and that a high quality service is provided.

Being part of a smaller case management company means that we all know each others’ strengths and this can really help when managing very complex cases.

“I love working at EWA which offers such a supportive environment.”

Case management has a growing profile and the creation of the IRCM will bring new levels of professional accreditation to the profession.

What do you think is the outlook for case management?

“I think that the IRCM will bring increased recognition and enhance the importance of the case management role.

“I hope it will improve standards and give more accountability. It is so important that clients have a good case manager on their side.

“They only get one chance of getting their life back together and so they need the right person supporting them to do this.

“I would hope that the IRCM will ensure that they always get the chance to have that right person alongside them on their journey.”

Finally, Lisa, we wanted to know something a little bit different about you.

Like so many of us, Lisa has teenagers who she spends a lot of time ferrying about to sports practices and matches in every spare moment but is there something unusual that we didn’t know?

“I have a City and Guilds qualification in millinery!”

So, with that in mind, let’s raise our hats to case management!  

Learn more about Emma Way associates at emmaway.uk

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