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Brain injury case management

What winning a CMSUK Award means to me

Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan reflects on PsychWorks Associates being named Case Management Service Provider of the Year



After PsychWorks Associates was named Case Management Service Provider of the Year at the CMSUK Awards 2023, managing director Dr Shabnam Berry-Khan shares her pride at the accolade, and gratitude to all those who made it possible


Back in the day I never dreamed of applying for an award, let alone winning one. And yet here we are, celebrating winning CMSUK’s Case Management Service Provider of the Year Award!

So, what changed?

I initially founded the PsychWorks Associates service in 2014 for case managers to find adequately trained and specialist treating psychologists to work with our complex injured clients.

I had been a case manager for several years by this time, and I could see there was clearly a demand, but no known provision dedicated to understanding the interactions between trauma, medico-legal contexts and case management. Let alone one that also considered systemic and diversity needs across the personal injury client cohort. I was driven by passion and personal experience to fill that gap and enhance the care that clients receive.

Despite that drive and passion, I remained a loyal part-time servant to the NHS, so PsychWorks Associates continued as a part-time endeavour until around 2019. It has grown hugely in the last 18 months, the pandemic having first redirected focus onto client safety rather than business growth. We now employ seven people with another on the way, and have over 35 associates across both the treating psychology and case management teams. Clearly the word that we are the only specialist personal injury case management and treating psychology service in the country has been spreading!

Nonetheless, the concept of awards remained something that seemed to be reserved for other people and organisations. Of course, I would have said to anyone else who verbalised such statements that it was imposter syndrome speaking. It’s a classic response to unconscious competence and feeling outside of one’s comfort zone.

So when people in my broader professional network queried whether my team would apply for a prestigious CMSUK Awards 2023, my knee-jerk reaction was to scoff and look around the room as if to say “Who? Us?”. After a couple of further prompts from colleagues outside of PsychWorks Associates, I realised I was wrong to resist, for two clear and obvious reasons. 

Firstly, my team and clinical networks are amazing and deserve to be praised outside of our four walls! In fact other people could already see we’re a reliable and reputable service, hence the encouragement to apply.

And secondly, we were sitting on heaps of service evaluation data and testimonial evidence demonstrating that what we’re doing is relevant, and improves outcomes and quality of life.

This latter point was what CMSUK wanted to hear about, so it seems appropriate to share some key points briefly:

  • We believe we are filling an important gap in being driven by case management practice and case-managed client needs. This means our psychologists are  automatically primed to keep in mind the goals of the latest Needs Assessment, as they co-create a course of treatment with the clients’ (or families) and networks’ collaborative input.
  • We are committed to diverse representation. We offer clients from the global majority a wider  range of clinician choices: 44 per cent of our clients are from diverse backgrounds, 45 per cent of our  clinicians are from diverse backgrounds.
  • Our service is built on several important “knowns” about clients in the personal injury context and so our clinicians know to provide an aligned service. This is one where home visits are default; understanding the needs from a systemic lens is essential; psychological understanding or formulations are vital for the system to understand the ‘whys’; consulting to the professional system is legitimate support to maintain systemic flow and professional retention; evidence-based, high quality reports is standard. 
  • We use the very safest, highly regulated clinicians. We prefer those regulated by the HCPC (or high quality equivalent) with several years of postgraduate/doctorate training, providing a range of evidence-based treatment and modalities of support.
  • We offer neuropsychological support from clinical psychologists specialising in brain injury and/or rehabilitation input. Some of them are working towards the qualification in clinical neuropsychology.
  • 93 per cent of our assessment reports are turned around in a month. Any delays are communicated and shared with the referrer/client so as to manage expectations.
  • We offer Mental Capacity Assessments carried out by clinical psychologists.
  • 100 per cent of our psychologists, where appropriate, employ standardised measures. This applies to assessing pre-, mid- and post-treatment ratings with interpretation, in order to to inform their talking therapy and  future clinical direction. 
  • 100 per cent of our psychologists are available to attend team meetings and provide ongoing  communication between sessions and meetings, including crisis management. Due to the complexity of our clients’ needs, we also appreciate that any change is difficult to  capture on standardised measures. Nonetheless, of the client work where questionnaires  were consented to, 57 per cent have shown a reduction in symptoms according to PHQ  (depression), GAD (anxiety) and IES-R (trauma) standardised questionnaire data. Where  symptoms have not improved or questionnaires were declined, 100 per cent of our reports will  provide a psychological rationale for the observed outcomes as well as qualitative data of improvement. 
  • 100 per cent of our assessment report recommendations have been achieved under budget. 

And that was just the tip of the iceberg!

There’s a lot to be proud of when working with the PsychWorks Associates family of administrative team and clinical networks. I absolutely believe that we are worthy of the accolade.

There wasn’t an opportunity for acceptance speeches at the awards event, but I was told to have one speech ready, just in case. It felt quite emotional when I wrote it so I thought to share it here. It would have gone something like this:

“I am humbled and delighted that PsychWorks Associates has won CMSUK’s Case Management Service Provider of the Year Award 2023. 

What an amazing recognition of our mission, not least because this was a tough category with some brilliant services that we’re going to want to keep watching!

When I founded PsychWorks Associates, it was a side hustle for a few years. It became my main role after my loving mother and kind father-in-law passed away in the same year and I wanted to focus on something that would make my heart sing again. So, when it felt right, I started employing an office team not even two years ago now.

For me, this award is a firm reflection of the hard work and dedication of my team, who I believe are amongst the best in the industry – and let that we’re the only specialist personal injury case management-treating psychology service in the country only enhance this belief. They have tirelessly helped me – and continue to – as well as support the clinicians to support the clients, and we’re close, as a result.

So, first and foremost, I would like to thank my staff and associates for believing and feeling the passion – I hope you, like me, feel it was the right card to play in this game called life. I am so very glad we chose each other. 

I also thank our clients and their families for having the courage to let us into their homes and lives to gently and respectfully co-create ways for them to feel better. 

Huge gratitude also goes to our big-thinking referrers and network of colleagues for their trust and collaboration in the trauma-informed and inclusive work we do. I hope you know that you are compassionate pioneers in developing our field to better meet all our clients’ needs.

Finally, huge thanks of course to the CMSUK panel for their flawless judging! This award inspires us to keep striving for excellence, innovation and safe service delivery.

Thank you so very much. My heart is singing.”