Rhiannon Stokes is the managing director of Stokes Case Management Company. She is a qualified occupational therapist (OT) and has practised as a case manager for over a decade.
Paralegal Olivia Shaw met Rhiannon to find out more about her role and how she helps clients with severe and complex disabilities, including spinal and brain injuries.
What inspired you to become a case manager?
Whilst progressing to be a care and OT expert within catastrophic injuries, I discovered case management. After doing some further research I found that it aligned with my values of OT, and fitted in with how I felt working with this kind of client group. My inspiration to set up the company was because at the time there was no generic case management company in Wales. I thought it would evolve to be a small boutique company however, it has organically grown into a national award winning company. I was also very passionate about women in business and having three daughters I wanted to show them that as a female you can go and do anything that you put your mind to.
What is a typical day like for you?
No day is the same, so this is a very difficult question to answer. It might involve making visits to clients, making numerous calls to families and support staff as well as safeguarding referrals. There are often unexpected spanners in the works, for example, a client’s hoist or piece of equipment breaking down, or clients getting into trouble with the police. When this happens the whole day can be flipped. I am always thinking on my feet and adapting to what each day brings.
What common goals do you help clients with?
As an OT, I would naturally look at the environment they reside in. So either adapting or changing clients properties is one of the first things I might look at. With an OT hat on, a positive environment can bring about positive change in health and wellbeing.
I think that rehabilitation is another common goal I help clients with. I will look at putting in place a multi-disciplinary team of therapists and/or experts for clients, even if it is only for assessment purposes to understand their needs.
How much contact do you have with clients and/or their families?
This depends on what point you join the client’s journey. In the beginning, this might be every day until things start to settle down and a plan has been implemented. Its important to continually revaluate the case management input and it often needs to be adapted. The client will have their support network around them, and not need the case manager as much if there is a support team in place. I am always looking whether I need to be involved longer term.
Can you tell me about a memorable outcome for one of your clients?
One of our clients had suffered a stroke and had a clinical negligence claim. He originally had another case manager, but his family decided they wanted a change. I was asked to get involved. This client had received no speech and language therapy since he had come out of hospital 10 years earlier. It was felt that he would never talk again. He had significant speech issues, but he could understand and knew what he wanted to say.
I helped put in place a speech and language therapist. He can now order a coffee and say, “Hi Ri”. It made me realise that we should never give up on our clients. People said he would never speak again, but he did.
How long will case management typically last?
How long is a piece of string? I have been working with one of my clients for nine years. Stokes is only six years old, but some of our case managers have worked with their clients most of this time.
I have also had clients where you are not involved for very long as you might raise a safeguarding issue, and they do not want to use you after this. There are also clients who will choose not to keep a case manager in place once their legal case settles. I think it is important for people to know they have a right to choose who their case manager is, and they can change their case manager at any time. I always say to my clients if they have any concerns, we can try to resolve them, but if they feel I am not the right fit, then that is ok too.
Who pays for case management input?
This can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Some have case management factored into their personal injury claims, others want to take a more direct approach. We have a number of clients that have not got a litigation claim, and we also work with some local authorities and are currently doing some work with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). These are complex cases where the families are finding it very difficult to manage. It is possible to vary arrangements depending on the client’s needs.
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