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Brain injury case management

Reflections on becoming an Advanced BABICM case manager

Nikki Smith discusses the process and offers insight to others considering applying for the coveted status

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Having recently become an Advanced Member of BABICM, Nikki Smith joins a prestigious group of case managers who have demonstrated an outstanding track record in their work and who excel across the seven competencies. 

Director of award-winning StanleySmith Case Management, Nikki becomes the fourth Advanced BABICM case manager in the business, alongside her follow director Heidi Stanley, and case managers Sally Nolan and Zoe Cocksedge. 

With 15 years of case management experience, Nikki is highly experienced in her field, but the demands of running a business, practicing as a physiotherapist and raising a family had prevented her going for Advanced status for many years. 

But more recently, the introduction by BABICM of online interviews, rather than only offering this in-person, made it a more achievable process logistically. 

Additionally, some major law firms are now stating their preference is to work with Advanced case managers – or case managers mentored by Advanced members – meaning Nikki felt the time was right to press ahead and secure the status.  

“While many people see it as a daunting process, I found it to be very friendly and supportive, and it has been extremely valuable to gain Advanced BABICM membership,” says Nikki. 

“While it’s natural to be concerned, or even terrified, at the prospect, I would wholeheartedly recommend going for it. If you feel you can gain Advanced membership, don’t step back – put yourself forward.

“As a business, we now have four Advanced members, and we are also making our mentoring supportive of our colleagues being able to apply if and when they feel they want to.”

Here, Nikki reflects on the process – from what deterred her from applying, to the process itself and the positive impact Advanced membership has had. 

Finding the time

For Nikki, as with so many case managers, time is at a premium. With the demands of the job – which for Nikki includes both case management and continuing to practice as a physiotherapist – as well as raising a family, seeking professional accreditations can often be put on the back burner. 

“Really, I could have done this many years ago, but when you’re so busy, and you know you need time to work on your evidence and your CPD and collate it all, all of a sudden the months and years go by,” says Nikki. 

“But a big factor for me what that prior to COVID, you used to have to go to London to do your interview face-to-face. At that time, my youngest child was still too young to be left after school, so it would mean me getting from Devon to London, doing the BABICM Advanced Assessment, and then getting back home, all in six hours. That is just not possible. 

“So it was always about how can I juggle this, how can I make the time, and it was just so difficult.”

But with the onset of COVID, BABICM, like so many organisations and individuals, embraced the power of video in enabling remote meetings – and all of a sudden the many hours of travelling time Nikki had to factor in were removed. 

“I think they realised during the COVID period that actually people were loving the ability to do the assessment virtually, it was so helpful,” says Nikki. 

“I think it’s probably very helpful for the assessors as well, as they’re all from different places too. So something that didn’t seem logistically doable all of a sudden became achievable, and was much easier to get in the diary. 

“I would say to anyone thinking of doing it – make sure you can make the time to get all your experience, hours and CPD together, collate it all, and then just get a time to do your interview in the diary. 

“Now that you can do it from your own home or office, it is so much easier to plan in, without wondering how you can possible juggle your work or family commitments.”

Compiling the evidence

Having been a case manager since 2008, Nikki has vast experience in the field – but the time spent in case management alone does not guarantee Advanced status, and a significant portfolio of evidence is needed. 

“I have worked in this area for so long that in theory I should be ‘Advanced’ anyway. I had Heidi and other colleagues nagging me – in the nicest possible way! – that I should just go for it,” says Nikki. 

“But I think it’s when you actually sit down to collate everything that the panic sets in, and you think ‘Have I got enough?’ Because you want to demonstrate everything that they need, and while you know you can do it, is your evidence going to be what they are looking for?”

As expected for BABICM Advanced status, the standards are very high in all seven competencies – communication, strategy, coordination and management, monitoring, duty of care, professionalism and personal attributes, along with the need for CPD – with Level 3 expected across the board for the prestigious accreditation to be granted. 

Nikki, who was the first candidate to use the BABICM online portal to submit her evidence, realised at this point she was probably over prepared. 

“From worrying I didn’t have enough, I realised I had probably overcooked it,” she says. 

“They are looking for about five pieces of evidence per competency, whereas I had in excess of ten or sometimes 15 for each one. 

“So then you have the problem of whittling that down, how to decide which ones still show my skills and demonstrate my ability. Was I leaving something out that was actually really valuable to this?”

Nikki also had to prepare for her presentation on her assigned topic of risk management. 

“It was an interesting process, as you are looking for some examples of working with clients, going back through so many cases and reviewing how we did things,” she says. 

“I gathered a lot of feedback from others, including from support workers I’d worked with, about how successfully I’d managed their care team, and things like that. It was a really nice process that allowed me to look back on many things and speak to others about it.”

Having prepared her highly comprehensive array of evidence, Nikki was delighted to see it featured in a session at the recent BABICM conference as an example to others. 

“That was really lovely, and I hope it may have been helpful in some way to others in enabling them achieve their Advanced status,” says Nikki. 

Opportunity for reflection

Through compiling the evidence to support her application, Nikki found herself going back over cases over many years and taking the time to evaluate the process and outcomes. 

While taking such time for reflection is something most of us want to achieve, few actually have the time to do so – which is why Nikki welcomed this part of the process in particular. 

“Often, you’re so busy that you don’t always take the time to reflect on your practice in ways that you want to, but this process really does give that opportunity,” she says. 

“It also highlighted to me where things have gone really well – and in those situations, it makes you think of things you could probably do again. And also, it highlighted things that maybe didn’t go so well, but you can look at how you dealt with that afterwards, what did you learn from it. 

“For me, I found looking at the good and bad things very helpful in planning for the future.”

Nikki found this reflection enabled her to look ahead both in terms of client work, as well as personal aspirations and goals.

“Having gone through so much evidence, you almost remind yourself of your own capability. I was looking at my CPD and thinking ‘Oh I’ve done loads of courses on this’ and realising how much I’d done in this area, but perhaps I’d like to do a bit more in another area,” she says. 

“Also, it helps you consider what you want to do personally. One of my personal goals is to become more confident at presenting, so it helped me focus on that as something I’d really like to work on.”

Positive impact of Advanced membership

Through securing the prestigious status, StanleySmith Case Management now has four Advanced members in its small but growing team – a hugely impressive ratio. 

“It doesn’t change the way you work, but it certainly shows you have reached a certain level of expertise, which is very valuable from an external point of view,” says Nikki. 

“For example, we heard from one law firm who suggested they only wanted to work with case managers who had Advanced member status, or those who are being mentored by Advanced members. 

“From a practical point of view, while I have been a case manager since 2008, I was not seen as a suitable mentor because I didn’t have Advanced status. So that was really important.

“I think it probably does instil confidence in people who are referring work to you, and particularly the fact there are four of us here.”

With the expertise in the business, and ongoing recruitment of skilled healthcare professionals, Nikki hopes StanleySmith Case Management will add even more Advanced BABICM members to its ranks in the near future. 

“One of our colleagues is looking to go for it soon, similar to me it was just finding the right time to do it,” says Nikki. 

“But our whole team are very experienced and if they don’t have what they need already, they are well on their way to working towards it. All of our case managers have at least eight years’ experience as therapists – we don’t take anyone with less than that – but some of us have over 20 years. 

“And for the new case managers coming through, we can help them build on their experience as therapists through mentoring – and that is done by our four Advanced case managers. We have all been through the process and know what you have to do.”

The four Advanced BABICM members are using their experience and insight to guide and implement top-class internal training and mentoring.  

“Zoe and Sally have written our mentor documentation, and our forms explore whatever it is that you’re working on and discussing, while linking that through to the BABICM competencies,” says Nikki. 

“The idea is that our case managers can be aware of the competencies and collect evidence in absolutely everything they’re doing, which will hopefully make it easier for them when it comes to their application.

“We always support our team in every way we can, and Advanced BABICM membership will hopefully be something that will benefit them personally and professionally.”

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