Choosing a case manager

During the litigation process, choosing a Case Manager (CM) is one of the important decisions to make. Ideally you want to build a good long-term relationship with the one you choose, albeit if it isn’t working you can remove and instruct another as often as needed. There is no legal requirement to have a CM, many parents are acting CM for their child especially when settled.

Having support from a good CM is invaluable. In addition to providing therapy and care that will improve your child’s life, in litigation they help to prove costs during interim for your child’s final settlement figure. Ultimately families will not always be around for their child and it can be better to have your child used to working with a multi-disciplinary team whilst family are still around to support and advocate for them.

A CM will conduct an initial assessment of your child detailing what support, care and therapies would help enhance your child’s life and provide a report of recommendations. Families’ views are important and should always be taken into account. A CM during interim should consider all possible costs and consider what is needed in the future. They are working on the basis there is no one around to support the child and thinking of the child’s future as an adult without any family support. They hope for the best, but plan for the worst. A CM’s client is your child, not you or the rest of your family.

A CM working within litigation will have an eye on what is recoverable or not and what they think Defence or a Judge will accept as reasonable costs. Disagreement on these things can be checked to see what other families have achieved. Being empowered and asking questions from those who have been through interim is important, don’t just accept what you are told by fee earners. Your child is your priority and you are their best advocate.

A good CM will consider what is in the child’s best interests first and foremost but always consider the family’s needs as well. Family support is proven to be crucial for rehabilitation. But what would happen to a child with complex needs if the family was suddenly not around? That is what the CM is considering. A stark reminder always our cases are for the child, not the family.

Clear communication is the key; families are in control of who and when professionals work with their child no matter what you are led to believe. Understanding the reasons for a CM during litigation is important for your child’s case. There is a lot of pressure for families to comply with what they are told to do which can generate fear of questioning anything. There is often good reason for a litigation team or Deputy to say what they say, they are humans though and sometimes their communication isn’t great, which can leave parents feeling scared and powerless.

Families can and do say no clearly, firmly and politely when needed. It is your home and your child. If you are unsure, speak to us, we can help support and advocate for you if needed. Our lives with our children are stressful, made more so when in litigation. Being empowered by having good support Is important.

Families will sometimes disagree with a suggestion made by a CM; a good CM will always explain thoroughly why they are suggesting something and give good reasons to support it.

Families should be open to suggestions and usually are when it is in the interests of their child. CM will take into account that families have already been let down many times by professionals and often do know their own child better than others. The onus is on the CM to prove they can be trusted and what they are suggesting is worthwhile. They are the ones being paid after all.

CM meeting with litigation Solicitors or Deputies may now find their costs are not necessarily recoverable nor appropriate. There is a good argument to be made that there should not be any discussion between Deputies and CM without parents attending.

Usually, a Deputy is for finance and property only, they are not involved in making decisions in the care of a child whilst a parent is advocating for them, their role is to ensure the funds are being used wisely and in the best interests of the child. The CM works for the child or if not able to advocate for themselves, for the family. CM invoices are paid by the Deputy from the child’s funds.

A High Court judge has recently ruled that charges for weekly meetings during litigation with CM and litigation Solicitor are not claimable because they do not progress the court case.

Claimant lawyers in Hadley v Przybylo had included the costs of weekly meetings with a case manager and Deputy (View Article)

Case Managers qualifications and governing bodies?

There is currently no professional qualification or body for CM, shocking when so much is dependent in litigation on what they recommend and put in place. There is no legal necessity for a CM, but they can be very helpful.

The relatively recent IRCM have long recognised this and are hoping to change that, recognising that case management should be regarded and monitored as a professional qualification and more importantly for families, be regulated and assessed for competencies.

IRCM (Institute of Registered case managers) –

IRCM states on its website “We will be seeking accreditation from the Professional Standards Authority under its accredited register scheme. This will validate IRCM’s commitment to high standards and public protection and service users will be able to have confidence when choosing services from someone who is not otherwise regulated for their case management practice”. There are however associations that case managers can pay to be members of at different levels, with some checking qualifications etc at its highest levels:

BABICM (British Association of case managers)

CMSUK (Case management Society UK)

VRA (Vocational Rehabilitation Association)

CQC – Are they CQC registered and regularly inspected for their service?

PSA – Health care professionals are regulated by the PSA

CM tend to come from Occupational Therapy or clinical backgrounds – but not always. They often will have some professional clinical qualifications – but not always. In the first instance ask for a CV and check what professional qualifications if any, your proposed CM manager has.

How to choose a case manager?

Identify what you want from a CM. Do you want them to be involved in everything or just part. Do you want them to provide and manage carers or do you just want help with access to education? A good CM will be happy to work at your level of need supporting your child, happy to drop in and out of support as needed. We would always recommend following up meetings/ conversations with an email. This provides a clear audit trail of what you have agreed and discussed.

A CM will work on the basis that they are in charge of all unless you have advised it is not what you want. CM are often working and charging on the basis there is no family around and the child needs their full support, this can be useful when needing to prove costs but can also cause resentment by the families who are not paid for their role yet usually have more hands-on knowledge of their child’s needs and already provide case management services without the pay or recognition. A good CM will recognise this and ensure the family are involved and part of decisions at every stage.

Determine the type of CM and what experience you would like them to have. A lot of litigation Solicitors/ Deputies will have their preferred CM they have worked with previously. There is nothing wrong with that, we all have our preferred suppliers. Do ensure they are right for you and your family though; ask for examples of other families they work with and what their skills are. Families can choose their preferred CM; you do not have to use Solicitor or Deputy choice. Families can look through the various associations for one near you, or ask other families for recommendations.

What are their qualifications? If you have a child with complex medical needs, a nursing background may be appropriate. Cognitive issues with little physical or clinical issues and a different CM with a rehabilitation background may be preferred.

References and recommendations from our charity members and other families are useful. Ask to speak to other current or previous clients.

Meet with at least 3 potential CM, it will give you a feel for how they work and what you need to be looking for. They are working for you and being paid for from your child’s funds which is managed by the Deputy.

Consider the personalities and communication style you work best with. How quickly do you expect them to respond? What happens when they are ill or on holiday? Ask these questions when interviewing them.

Invoicing and costs. Always request invoices are sent to you for approval prior to being sent to the Deputy for payment. Only you know what is happening in your home. Request this in writing via an email copying in your Deputy if you have one.

What training do they complete regularly? What associations are they members of and are they assessed by peers?

How have they handled conflict in the past and what is their company policy on handling any potential conflict? What is their complaints process?

How many other clients are they currently working with, how much of their time is taken up with each
client weekly?

Ultimately trust your instincts when making a final decision. Choosing a CM that will work well with you and your family you need to feel comfortable they meet your needs and values. It may take time to find the right fit for you, don’t be rushed into making a decision, it is important you feel you can trust this new person who will likely have a major impact on your family and home life. Being calm, professional and clear yourself helps to keep the relationship smooth.

As a charity we can provide support to you when choosing a CM or if any issues arise.

Clear, firm and professional communication is the key to getting the best from your Case Manager.

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