Case Management Society UK’s Conference was a wonderful opportunity for case managers to get together and explore what the future looks like and how the experience can be improved for clients. 

As a serious injury lawyer working with case managers on a day-to-day basis, it was invaluable to hear from peers and experts in the industry.

Sue Ford, Chair of CMSUK, opened the conference which was held in London. She discussed the launch of the Institute of Registered Case Managers which is a new organisation. Its role will be to safeguard the users of case management services. We then had a performance from Keith Xander, a lead singer, guitarist and songwriter who was born with half a right arm. He spoke about how his positive mindset and mantra of “failing well” has meant that he’s gone on to achieve his dreams and tour with the likes of Buddy Guy, Bon Jovi and Joe Bonamassa.

We then had the opportunity to hear from a host of experts within the field. Sheri Taylor, Director and Dietician at Specialist Nutrition Rehab spoke about the impact of food and nutrition on bone healing after a fracture or complex orthopaedic trauma. With very few people being referred to a dietician following discharge from hospital, it became clear that this is an area overlooked by many case managers and solicitors. 

Sheri explained the reasons why nutrition is so important for bone healing. About 60 per cent of people post-injury are deemed to be ‘malnourished’ because they are immobilised with a poor diet. Factors such as fatigue, weight and immune system affect your ability to heal. Sheri explored lifestyle factors which contribute to this, such as smoking, excess alcohol intake and certain pain medication. She explained what case managers need to more routinely look for during their initial assessments and the vital role that dieticians can play in the rehabilitation and recovery of our clients.  

An experts panel including Jo Evans, case manager and managing director of Unite Professionals; Matija Krkovic, a NHS consultant and orthopaedic and trauma surgeon and David Goodier, a consultant in limb reconstruction and medico-legal expert, led to a very interesting discussion analysing the role and duty of case managers when there are differing or conflicting treating and medico-legal expert opinions. 

We heard that, irrespective of the trauma, doctors can predict within one month of injury which people will be back at work within two years, based on a psychological assessment alone. It’s clear that our clients need robust and experienced case managers who can support them to navigate the medical and legal process and advocate for their best interests.

We were then very fortunate to hear from Elizabeth Nightingale, neuro services lead at Chiltern Music Therapy, and Sofie Toft, a serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell. They gave clinical examples of how neurological music therapy is proven to support functional rehabilitation goals, including cognition, motor skills, mood, speech and communication. 

Elizabeth shared how innovative approaches can yield life-changing results, such as somebody learning how to wash their hair independently for the first time and a father being able to finally hold his daughter’s hand again after injury. 

Neurological Musical Therapy has been integrated into the therapy provision offered to patients at the Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit (‘RNRU’) at Homerton Hospital. Elizabeth explained how music therapy is able to work alongside more conventional therapies and give people the best possible opportunity to engage in their rehabilitation. For example, 97 per cent of patients at the RNRU agreed that music therapy helped distract them from physical pain. 

Sofie gave her first-hand experience of how music therapy has played an invaluable rehabilitation role for some of her personal injury clients.  

The day ended with a fantastic talk from Aaron Phipps MBE, Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Paralympian. At 15, Aaron had both of his legs and most of his fingers amputated due to blood poisoning from meningitis. Despite this, he’s gone on to become a gold medal winning Paralympian, the first amputee to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro without any assistance and has been voted one of the top 100 most influential people in the UK with a disability. 

I don’t think there was a dry eye after hearing Aaron speak about the lengths he went to in order to achieve his goals.

It was a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable day.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people through rehabilitation at our dedicated support and rehabilitation section