Why Belong to a Professional Association?

The cost of living keeps going up and payment for an association may seem like a bit of a luxury but, if you take some time to think about it, being a member of a professional association may be one of the most important actions you take in your professional career.

Your professional association represents you personally as a member and your profession as a whole. There is no other organisation which looks out for your profession and its members. If there was no association, there would not be any body to speak up for the profession or for the members of that profession. Make no mistake about it, a registration board does not represent a professional body. It represents the community/government. This difference may not seem relevant but it really is.

For example, only your professional body will lobby for appropriate schedules of fees. The registration board will not do this. This is worth actual money to you. If your work includes or even potentially includes funding from health insurers, DVA, National Disability Insurance, or other goernement or private organisations which provide fees for professional services, then your actual pay depends on these organisations funding the services properly. Registration boards do advocate for professional and there is no other organisation which will do this. You are completely reliant on your professional association to lobby to ensure these fees are adequate. I could provide a page full of examples but will refer to just one. Last year the Federal government dropped Occupational Therapy and Social Work from the Better Access for Mental Health program. Presumably some sketchy research had indicated thatPsychology, only was required in this are of mental health. The professional associations for Occupational Therapy and Social Work liaised with government officials and provided justification for the service to continue to also fund Occupational Therapists and Social Workers. It is not only the professions and individual members of the professions which would suffer from the removal of Occupational Therapy or Social Work but the potential recipients of treatment. Professionals have a responsibility to advocate in this situation.

Advocacy can only take place where the Professional Association is able to operate with sufficient resources and with the involvement of the profession. This is up to the members and potential members.

Networking and Relationships

The building and strengthening of these relationships is great for your profession as a whole, in the long run benefitting you but is a real asset for you personally on a short or medium term basis. I use the term “asset” intentionally because your networks are really as important as your experience and any post-grad qualifications you have in helping you in your career. Professional relationships give power to your profession and power to your career.

News and Research
It is important to keep in touch with news within the profession, but even more important is being on top of current research and best practice. This is the difference between a professional and a technician. If you believe you are a professional you need to be up to date with the current thinking in your profession. This includes reading current reseach and attending conferences or interest groups within your professional area. It is of course, possible to read this research without joining a professional association. If you live or work close to a university where you can get access to the journals or if you subscribe to particular journals then this is a valid way of getting the information you need. As well as this, professional Associations provide cheap (if not free) local and international journals. You might find, if you do a cost benefit ananylsis, of using your time to attend the library or paying for the subscriptions, that the money spent on joining the association is acutally the less expensive option.

Learning and Development
Many people state that their main reason for belonging to a professional association is the learning and development which takes place within the association. Most professional associations provide menbers with access to training courses at a significant discount. Others say that they do not need this support as there is plenty of training within their workplace. It is wonderful when your organisation provides this support, however, it is important that information also comes in from outside your organisation also, to ensure that the training you get is relevant and up to date. You can imagine how, if no-one in an organisation ever has training from outside, then the same information will circulate. This can actually reinforce practices which should really be reveiwed and it prevents the organisation from moving forward in this professional area.

Employers should encourage membership of professional associations and attendance at courses outside of the orgnaisation itself, to ensure the quality of the services they offer.

Leadership and Career Development
By participating in your professional assiciation you can develop skills that you may not be able to develop in your regular employment. Membership itself is a boost to your Curriculum Vitae. Add to that, your participation in a particular interest group or contribution in some other way and your list of achievements starts looking pretty spectacular for any jobs you go for. Not only does this reinforce your expertise in a particular area but it gives you status in your area of practice. If you are looking at moving into a senior or managerial role, your participation as a leader in your professional organisation provides you with a stepping stone to that function.

Other Benefits
Lets not forget the consumer benefits. Your association may provide you with reduced fees for certain hotels for flights. Maybe you get a discount in certyain shops. All these are relvant, not as important as the other reasons I have given, but certainly relevant in making a decision on whether to belong to your professional association.

Professional Committment
If you do not have enough professional committment to belong to your professional association, are you really a professional? I believe that it is an obligation of being a professional to belong to such an organisation.

Please feel free to comment. Are you a member of your professional association? If so what made you decide to join?

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Have your say now!

I started RehabHub just over a year ago. As a Rehabilitation Consultant, working largely on my own, I found that I was needing to connect with other people in similar roles. I thought other rehab and injury management professionals may be feeling the same way, so I worked out how to set up a website and put RehabHub together. It was slow at first but I am now overwhelmed with the amount of feedback I get from a whole range of different readers. It has been a wonderful experience connecting with Rehab and Injury Management professionals from all over Australia and other coutnries too.

Well, now the time has come to revamp RehabHub and make it even more useful. I want to make sure that what I am writing about really addresses the issues that interest RehabHub readers most.

So this is where you come in. This week I am going to let you do the talking! I would be really grateful if you could let me know either in the comments section below or by emailing me on rehabhub@gmail.com what you want to see on RehabHub in the future. Would you like more information on specific injuries, how about workforce issues? Are you interested in legal issues? Anything else that you are absolutely needing to read about in relation to rehabilitation and injury management? I have had a lot of positive feedback about products that I have featured on the site and thought I might do more of this in the future. Are there any specific products you are interested in?

If you could please put together a few words with your ideas I would appreciate it and together we can make this site even more useful!

And now, over to you……………………………………………

Thanks so much for your input!

Posted in Injury Management, Rehab | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Inquiry Into NSW Workers Compensation Scheme

A parliamentary inquiry is a means for a parliaments to find out specific information about a topic. They are a way for the public to have a say. A committee is appointed, from the members of parliament, to conduct the inquiry then submissions are then invited. Usually any interested party can put in an opinion.

The NSW Parliament, Joint Select Committee is currently calling for submissions from interested parties into the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme. This is democracy at work, people! If you are in NSW and you feel there is anything that you think could be improved in the workers compensation system then put it out there because parliament is listening right now! If you can put in a submission as part of a group for example, a professional group or as a representative of your company then your submission will have more weight.

When writing the submission you must stick to the terms of reference. Other than that you can say what you think.

It is a good idea to provide evidence for what you are saying if you want to be taken seriously. Also, if you are highlighting problems it is a good idea to give an indication of what you think the solution should be.
Find out more about the inquiry here.

If you are not from NSW and/or you are not involved in Workers Compensation, then keep and an eye out for parliamentary inquiries in your area where you may be able to have your say.

Election to the Board of OT Australia
A sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted for me for the Board of the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists. I have been elected to the board. I feel honoured that so many people put their confidence in me and I look forward to representing the needs of each member and in particular, those working in rehabilitation and injury management. Thanks again. Robyne Cottee

Posted in Case management, Injury Management, legal, work cover | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rehabilitation and injury management: How does rehabilitation differ from injury management?

Included in the definition of the verb to rehabilitate in the Macquarie Dictionary is:
1. To restore to a good condition, esp. in a medical sense of persons; regenerate, or alter to an improved form.
2. to educate for resumption of normal activities.

The is more the definition but it is not relevant.

Injury Management
Finding a definition of injury management is a little more difficult. The best one I could find is this…..

“Injury Management is a coordinated and integrated management process involving early intervention with appropriate, adequate and timely services based on assessed needs. It is intended to facilitate recovery in order to achieve the best results for a safe and durable return to work for injured workers.

Effective injury management relies on the co-operation of employers, workers’ insurers, medical practitioners, allied health and rehabilitation professionals.”

Which comes from a rehabilitation provider website in Tasmania. The provider is called IPM and you can visit the website by clicking here.

Where do you draw the line and what exactly is the overlap between injury management and rehabilitation?
I think these boundaries are in the process of developing and different organisations may mean different things by the terms rehabilitation and injury management.

So according to the above information, rehabilitation is focused on the injured person and their injury where as injury management includes a stronger focus on other parties including the insurer and employer.

Rehabilitation and Injury Management
According to the above, as a rehabilitation consultant working with a rehabilitation provider working with NSW work cover, and the Motor Accidents Authority, I am involved in both rehabilitation and injury management. If you work for an inusurer, your job would be probably be classified as injury management rather than rehabilitation. Let me know if you disagree with this conclusion.

What do we do?
The overlap between the terms is vast but whatever you call what you do, the role is vital. Common law allows for people injured in an accident to sue other parties if they can prove certain elements. Under worker’s compensation legislation, motor accident legislation, the strict adherance to those requirements is relaxed in exchange for an accepted limited liability from the employer or the driver at fault. The employer or driver also engages an insurer to manage this aspect of their liability.

This is a great thing.

It means that injured people and other parties are not spending years fighting in courts. Resources can be directed quickly and efficiently to help restore the claimant to their former life. There is nothing fair about being injured, particularly if it is a serious injury. In many cases, no amount of money can compensate the injured person for what has happend but the goal is to use what is available in the best possible way.

As rehabilitation and injury management professionals, we assess the situation and make sure that assistance is distributed appropriately for that particular claimant. We encourage early return to work because this has been shown to benefit the injured person and can also helps to directly reduce costs.

Rehabilitation providers are working on behalf of both the injured person and other parties to ensure everyone meets their obligations. There are faults in the system and sometimes it doesn’t work but if we do our job well, most of the time, we can achieve an outcome that benefits all parties.

Clearly, if you work for an insurer or employer, your job is to serve that organisation, however, that should not be seen as working against the claimant. A focus on fighting a claimant rather than trying to find a way to work with them can backfire badly. Please see my post on Cadbury-v-Davis.

None of this is easy. Basically, that’s why we have a job! If it all went smoothly every time, there would be no need for rehabilitation and injury management professionals!

I feel privileged to have the responsibility to assist people at such a vulnerable time in their lives and to really make a difference to their lives. It is increadibly rewarding to see people who have had such bad luck to be able to get their lives back together and to know I have helped them to achieve that.

Let me know your opinions.

On another topic
If you are an Occupational Therapist and a member of the Australian Association of Occupational Therapists, don’t forget to vote for the new board members. The people you vote for will represent you through the association. It is important to understand that the new Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, the government body which is part of AHPRA, represents the community and regulates Occupational Therapists. It does not represent Occupational Therapists. Only the Association does that. So now, more than ever, with national registration about to happen, it is really important to have a strong association and support from all the members, to promote the needs of the profession.

If you have not done so, please go to the association website (click here) and spend a few minutes choosing a board member to represent you. If you decide to vote for me, Robyne Cottee, then I am very grateful to you. I have some unique skills and experience to offer, with my legal and business background as well as a long and varied career as an Occupational Therapist. I also feel it is important for Occupational Rehabilitation to have a voice on the board.

I love hearing from readers
Finally, thanks so much to all of the people who contact me by email. I really love hearing how you enjoy RehabHub and what specific posts were useful to you. It seems the post on stand-up desks was quite popular so I intend to focus a little more on products in the future.

I write RehabHub to give a voice to rehabilitation and injury management professionals as a whole. We are divided into a number of professions and our work can be isolating so I hope to be able to provide a focus with some top quality information but also a friendly environment to help support others working in this area. I greatly appreciate your feedback, which helps make the site more useful. Please feel free to state in just a couple of words in the reply section what content you would like to see on RehabHub and I will do my best to deliver on that.

Thanks for taking the time to read RehabHub, I hope it has been useful for you. Have a great week!

Posted in Case management, CTP, Injury Management, Injury Mangement, occupational therapist, Occupational Therapy, rehabilitation, work cover | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd v Davis [2001] NSWCCPD 4 (31 January 2011) – When does case management turn into bullying?

This is a case from the Worker’s Compensation Commission of NSW that everyone working in Occupational Rehabiliation or Injury Mangement should be aware of. It is a NSW case but the same law potentially applies in other states.You can read the transcript here.

It has important implications for the management of injured workers’ cases and their rehabilitation.

Ms Davis worked as a sales administration clerk for Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd (Cadbury). She injured her back and neck when she fell from a chair in the course of her employment on 23 August 2000. She was pregnant at the time of the injury and give birth soon after. She did not receive any treatment while on maternity leave. The claim included a claim for a psychological damage arising from the management of the single injury.

Return to Work
She made several unsuccessful attempts to return to work with her pre-injury employer and otehr employers. She was provided with treatment at a later stage but was also placed under survailance. She was referred for an exercise physiology program which she claimed was inappropriate. There is no mention in the transcript of the case, of the involvement of a rehabiliation provider.
There are a number of references to the insurer’s management of this claim.

Deputy President Bill Roche states (83) that he agrees that Ms Davis had good reason to feel frustrated and harassed and overborne by the administrative acts of the insurer.

He makes that point that it is irrelevant the the psychological condition did not occur as part of the original injury and that her employment was not a contributing factor.(96) He states that the psychological condition arose out of the management of the claim (97) and is therefore a consequence of her original injury sustained on 23 August 2000. He states that she is therefore entitled to be compensated.

Hang on minute!
Okay, let’s just stop and think about that for a second. Here are Deputy President Roche’s exact words “Ms Davis’s psychological symptoms developed in 2005, not 2008, and the evidence from Ms Marshall clearly linked those symptoms to her physical injuries and the claim for compensation for those injuries. The management of a claim for compensation is as much a part of the claim as the treatment for the injury.” (97)

So the management of the claim was the actual cause of further damage. The damage casused was a period of total unfitness followed by ongoing partial unfitness. Very expensive for the inusrer (not to mention the injured worker!)

What does this mean?
The management and rehabilitation of compensation cases is critical. Not only does good case management and rehabilitation assist the person to make an optimal recovery but, as this case shows, poor management can actually cause additional damage which can be severe. This is what you call a loose/loose situation!

Please let me know if you have any comments on this case. In particular, have you ever seen a worker or claimant bullied or do you feel that severe management of a claim is neccessary at times. Please have your say in the reply section below.

Update on Australian Occupational Therapy Association CPD Requirements
In response to the Occupational Board of Australia announcing its CPD requirements which are quite different from the Associations requirements, the Association no longer requires compliance to its CPD programme. You can read about it here.

Posted in Case management, CPD, Injury Management, legal, national registration | Tagged , | Leave a comment