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2024 General Election: Voting for those living with disabilities

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With the recent announcement of the 2024 General Election, political parties are gearing up and voters are getting ready to head to the polling stations.

For individuals living with disabilities, the opportunity to take part in the democratic process means addressing the unique challenges they face in accessing polling stations, understanding the resources available, and their voting rights.

Voting if you are living with a disability

The Equality Act 2010 mandates that reasonable adjustments must be made to ensure that people living with disabilities can access polling stations and cast their vote.

Your local authority is legally obligated to make reasonable adjustments which may include:

  • Ensuring that entrances, exits, and voting areas are accessible to wheelchair users. This can involve installing ramps, widening doorways, and ensuring pathways are clear of obstacles.
  • Providing designated accessible parking spaces close to the polling station.
  • Clear and easy-to-read signs that direct voters to the polling station and provide information on the accessibility features available.
  • Offering assistance such as a tactile voting device, large print ballot papers, or allowing a companion to assist with voting.

What if I need assistance with my ballot paper?

If you need support to complete a ballot paper, you can bring along either a:

  • Carer
  • Friend
  • Relative

These individuals do not have to be eligible to vote and will not need to bring photo ID with them. They do need to be 18 years or older. The leading officer at the polling station is also able to help you fill in your ballot paper.

Polling stations should also have various pieces of equipment available to ensure everyone is able to vote. These include:

  • Magnifiers that increase the size of text on a document. The polling station should have more than one strength.
  • Tactile voting device which provides support for voters living with a visual impairment to mark their vote in the right place.
  • Pencil grip that allows a voter living with dexterity impairments to hold the pencil more easily.

I am unable to get to the polling station

If you are unable to visit a polling station, you can vote via post (a postal vote) or proxy (someone voting on your behalf).

To vote via post, you must apply for this which can be found here.

Postal votes are useful for those who find it difficult to move and stand for longer periods or are unable to leave their house.

Voting by proxy means someone votes on your behalf. You must apply for a proxy vote and there are certain requirements that must be met. Details can be found here.

Much like postal votes, voting by proxy is useful if you are unable to leave your house and wish for a trusted individual to vote on your behalf.

Voting day

Voting for the 2024 General Election will take place on the 4th July, 2024 and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

In order to vote, photo ID must be shown.

Accessible voting is not only a legal right; it is a fundamental aspect of an inclusive democracy that listens to the voices of all. For any more information on voting, we recommend visiting Gov.uk

The Importance of Comprehensive Mental Health Support Following a Serious Injury

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Support Following a Serious Injury

Following a serious injury, an individual will face immediate and profound changes to their life. Physically, this could vary widely depending on the nature and severity of the injury. Some individuals may require the amputation of a limb, which can lead to significant adjustments in mobility and the ability to complete day-to-day tasks.

Alternatively, it could result in the paralysis of the lower body, necessitating the use of a wheelchair and a period of intensive and ongoing rehabilitation. manifest as requiring an amputation of a limb or living with paralysis of the lower body.

Psychologically, the aftereffects of a serious injury can be equally, if not, more challenging. Following an injury, many individuals experience a range of mental health issues, may include such as depression due to the sudden change in lifestyle and loss of independence, anxiety driven by concerns about the future, or PTSD, which may present itself through flashbacks or severe anxiety.

The physical and psychologic challenges can create a complex and demanding recovery process, with rehabilitation needed to address both physical rehabilitation and mental health support. To address the various needs of the individual, a case manager will conduct an Immediate Needs Assessment (INA) as part of the client’s case management process. This assessment with identify the client’s urgent post-injury requirements, focusing not only on the physical injury and aftercare but also providing a provision for psychological support.

The impact of serious injuries on a persons mental health

Serious injuries can profoundly affect a person’s mental health. Fear, anxiety, frustration; sadness are just some of the emotions a client may experience following the injury. The sudden shift in physical capabilities can often lead to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability and many individuals may also struggle with a sense of loss.

Understanding the effect of the injury, creating coping methods for pain, or coming to terms with a client’s disability will cause the psychological impact of an injury to extend beyond the initial shock. This will often manifest as mood swings, insomnia, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Insights from our case management team

A holistic plan is crucial for the client’s recovery. Our team work closely with psychologists and psychiatrists, and other specialists, as instructors of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) to ensure the entirety of the client’s needs are met.

Empowering U case managers introduce personalised rehabilitation plans and coordinate various aspects of treatment to ensure comprehensive recovery. Understanding that addressing mental well-being is just as important as treating the physical injury itself, we address both aspects equally

Patience and Compassion

Incorporating insights from our experienced case managers enhances the quality of care provided to individuals recovering from serious injuries. Their commitment to individualised support helps foster resilience and promotes overall well-being throughout every step of the recovery journey.

Providing Bespoke Care

The inseparable link between physical and mental care

When it comes to recovering from a serious injury, the connection between physical and mental well-being is undeniable. The body and mind are intricately linked, with each impacting the other in significant ways. Physical pain can often lead to emotional distress, while mental health struggles can manifest physically.

An integrated approach recognises that recovery goes beyond just physical rehabilitation; it involves supporting emotional resilience as well.

Understanding Each Individual

Our case managers understand the importance of comprehensive support that addresses not only the visible injuries but also the invisible. By acknowledging this crucial link, they strive to ensure our clients achieve a true and lasting recovery.

The importance of psychologists and psychiatrists as part of an MDT

When dealing with serious injuries, the role of psychologists and psychiatrists within a MDT is crucial. These specialists provide invaluable support to individuals navigating the complex emotional challenges that often accompany physical trauma.

Psychologists help clients cope with stress, anxiety, and depression resulting from their injuries. Through therapeutic interventions and counselling services, they address the psychological impact of the injury on a person’s overall well-being.

On the other hand, psychiatrists play a vital role in managing any psychiatric conditions that may arise post-injury. They assess for mental health disorders such as PTSD or adjustment disorders and prescribe appropriate medications if necessary.

By collaborating closely with physicians, nurses, therapists, and social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists ensure that holistic care is provided to clients. This integrated approach addresses both the physical and mental aspects of recovery for better outcomes. By incorporating these professionals into an MDT, individuals receive comprehensive support tailored to their unique needs throughout their rehabilitation.

If you would like to find out more about our case management service, contact us on:

hello@empoweringu.co.uk or 0330 128 1722

Parkinson’s: How does Empowering U provide support?

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What is Parkinson’s? 

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement. It develops gradually, usually starting with minor tremors in one hand. Over time, the symptoms worsen and can include stiffness or rigidity of muscles, Bradykinesia (slowness of movement), impaired balance and coordination, and difficulties with speech and writing. 

What causes Parkinson’s? 

Parkinson’s disease primarily affects the brain’s nerve cells responsible for producing dopamine, a chemical messenger essential for smooth and coordinated muscle movements. As dopamine levels decrease, individuals experience a variety of symptoms, including tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement, and impaired balance. 

There are several types of Parkinson’s disease, with the most common being idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, which has no known cause. Other types include Parkinsonism, which refers to conditions with similar symptoms to Parkinson’s disease but with different underlying causes, such as drug-induced Parkinsonism or vascular Parkinsonism. 

Is there just one type of Parkinson’s? 

Parkinson’s is just one condition that falls under the Parkinsonism umbrella. This is a term that covers a wide range of conditions with symptoms like Parkinson’s. 

Idiopathic Parkinson’s 

Meaning the cause is unknown, this is the most common form of Parkinson’s and accounts for the vast majority of instances. 

Young-onset Parkinson’s 

Typically, Parkinson’s occurs in individuals over 50 however when it occurs in a person under 50, this is called Young-onset Parkinson’s. Young-onset Parkinson’s differs from Idiopathic Parkinson’s in several ways: 

  • Slower progression over time 
  • Less frequent cognitive problems such as Dementia 
  • More frequent dyskinesias (involuntary body movements) 
  • Earlier and more frequent dystonias (cramping and abnormal postures) 

Vascular Parkinson’s 

Also known as Arteriosclerotic Parkinsonism, this is when the blood supply to the brain is restricted. This may develop in individuals who have had a mild stroke. 

Comprehensive Support at Empowering U 

Empowering U is dedicated to empowering individuals with Parkinson’s to live fulfilling and independent lives. Our team of experienced care managers and healthcare professionals provides personalised support tailored to each individual’s unique needs. 

Holistic Care Approach: 

We understand that Parkinson’s impacts every aspect of a person’s life, from physical health to emotional well-being. That is why we take a comprehensive approach to care, addressing not only the physical symptoms but also the psychological and social aspects of the disease. 

Not everyone with Parkinson’s has the same set of symptoms; at Empowering U, we take a person-cantered approach to helping those in our care. People with Parkinson’s are experts in their own condition, and we encourage and assist them in advocating for their needs, emphasising what they can do rather than what they can’t.

Rachel Cox, Clinical Lead

Specialised Services 

Our range of specialised services includes: 

  1. Care Coordination: We work closely with healthcare providers to ensure seamless communication and coordination of care, including medication management and therapy sessions.
  2. Symptom Management: Our team develops personalised care plans to address specific symptoms, such as tremors, rigidity, and gait disturbances, utilising a combination of medication, physical therapy, and other therapeutic interventions.
  3. Education and Support: We provide educational resources and support groups to help individuals and their families better understand Parkinson’s and learn effective coping strategies.
  4. Assistive Technology: We offer guidance on the use of assistive devices and technology to enhance mobility, communication, and overall quality of life.
  5. Emotional Support: Living with Parkinson’s disease can be emotionally challenging. Our compassionate team provides support to help individuals and their families navigate the emotional ups and downs of the disease.

Why Empowering U? 

  1. Expertise: Our team consists of experienced healthcare professionals with specialised training in Parkinson’s management.
  2. Comprehensive Support: From symptom management to emotional support, we offer a comprehensive range of services designed to address the diverse needs of individuals living with Parkinson’s disease.
  3. We Empower U: We believe in empowering individuals with Parkinson’s to take control of their health and well-being. Through education, support, and access to resources, we help our clients live fulfilling and meaningful lives despite the presented by Parkinson’s.

We are committed to providing individuals with Parkinson’s, and their family, the resources, guidance, and support they need to live their best lives.  

If you or a loved one is living with Parkinson’s, contact Empowering U today to learn more about how we can help 

Call: 0330 128 1722 or email: hello@empoweringu.co.uk

Collaboration, as featured in the 2015 Rehabilitation Code, demonstrated through two people holding hands.

The 2015 Rehabilitation Code: Prioritising Client Rehabilitation

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What is the 2015 Rehabilitation Code? 

First introduced in 1999, and later reformed in 2007 and 2015, the Rehabilitation Code promotes the collaborative use of rehabilitation and early intervention in the compensation process. Its main aim is to encourage this collaboration to enable the best and quickest possible medical, social and psychological recovery of an injured person (‘Claimant’) regardless of the severity of the injury, returning them as much as possible to the position they were in before the accident.

The third version was introduced in 2015 and created by representatives from ABI, APIL, CMSUK, FOIL, IUA, MASS and PIBA. The largest difference is that lower-value claims (up to £25,000) are now included, recognising the need for early intervention in all cases. 

Client Rehabilitation as a Priority

The 2015 Rehabilitation Code is a voluntary framework for claimants and defendants. It encourages both parties to work collaboratively from the outset of the claim to identify a client’s needs and find the most suitable rehabilitation, usually before liability is admitted. In adopting this approach, the client is able to focus solely on their recovery whilst their claim is ongoing.

Claimant Party 

After an individual is injured, the solicitor is responsible for advocating on behalf of their client’s best interests, which goes beyond just securing financial compensation.  It also includes assessing whether medical or rehabilitative treatment would improve the client’s present or long-term situation. This role is continuous throughout the lifespan of the case but of particular significance during the early stages of the claim. 

It is also the duty of the claimant solicitor to meet with the claimant and/ or their family to identify if there is an immediate need for aids, adaptations, or adjustments to employment, facilitating the claimant’s continued performance in their existing job, securing a suitable alternative role with the same employer or aiding in retraining for new employment opportunities. The solicitor must also, where practical and proportionate, work with the claimant’s employers to ensure that the position is kept open for them as long as possible. 

The solicitor then needs to communicate any requirements to the compensator as soon as is practical to enable them to work collaboratively to address all rehabilitation needs. 

The Compensator 

From the earliest practical stage, it is the duty of the compensator to consider whether the claimant would benefit from additional medical or rehabilitative treatment. This duty continues through the life of the case. 

If the claimant has been identified as requiring rehabilitation, the compensator must contact the claimant solicitor as soon as possible to collaboratively work together to address the claimant’s needs.

Codes, such as the 2015 Rehabilitation Code, are designed to ensure the client's best interests and they not only provide a framework for early intervention and rehabilitation in order to aid the clients recovery, but also ensure that the treatment process is as smooth and as efficient as possible. These codes empower clients with knowledge and protect their rights.

They create awareness about the client's options, signposting them to the appropriate support and thereby aiding in their decision-making process. Adhering to these codes signifies that we operate at a high degree of professionalism and integrity. This promotes transparency in our operations and helps in establishing trust with the clients. Following these shows our commitment to providing a high-quality service.

Jennifer Mitchell CMgr MCMIHead of Business Operations

The Case Manager 

In catastrophic and severe cases, the 2015 Rehabilitation Code recommends a qualified Case Manager should be appointed before any rehabilitation commences. In some cases, this may not be possible but should be considered a priority. 

The Case Manager’s role is to assess the client’s needs, coordinate various services, and facilitate rehabilitation efforts. In medium, severe and catastrophic injuries, a Case Manager will notify the need for and type of rehabilitation assistance by means of an Immediate Needs Assessment (‘INA’). The INA will be carried out by a Case Manager or appropriate rehabilitation professional, e.g. an NHS Rehabilitation Consultant. 

The Code notes that a Case Manager must be professionally and suitably qualified and experienced according to the injury sustained. Our Case Managers are trained in a range of fields: 

  • Brain Injury 
  • Spinal Injury
  • Orthopaedics 
  • Paediatrics 
  • Functional Neurological Disorder (‘FND’) 
  • Amputation 
  • Neurological Disorders 
  • Mental Health 
  • Drug Misuse  
  • Musculoskeletal 
  • Complex Care and Complex Polytrauma 

They are also registered with professional bodies including: 

  • BABICM (‘British Association of Brain Injury & Complex Case Management’) 
  • CMSUK (‘Case Management Society UK’) 

Our Approach and Expertise 

The primary goal of the Code is to prioritise the injured individual’s involvement in the entirety of the process, empowering them to maintain control over their treatment whenever feasible. 

Our team employs a collaborative and transparent approach, serving as a central figure within a Multi-disciplinary Team (‘MDT’), and holds a respected position within the clinical negligence and personal injury sectors. 

Instructed by some of the UK’s leading solicitors and law firms, our team uses their expertise to conduct Immediate Needs Assessments, create reports, and play a vital role in orchestrating and strategising the necessary care and rehabilitation for the client. 

Crash Pad: Pioneering Hospital Admission Avoidance

By Articles, Charity and Community

Empowering U’s Crash Pad was recently showcased in an ITV News investigation, highlighting the need for hospital admission avoidance strategies to reduce the number of adults, living with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), being institutionalised as in-patients.

Pioneering Hospital Avoidance Strategies

ITV News recently aired an investigation, shedding light on the vital issue of adults living with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder and the need for hospital avoidance strategies. The investigation centres around the pioneering partnership between Empowering U and Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHNFT). Together, we are dedicated to offering community-based support to help individuals living with learning disabilities and ASD avoid institutionalisation.

Empowering U’s collaboration with the BCHNFT has made significant strides in supporting those living with learning disabilities and ASD. Rather than institutionalisation and hospitalisation, Empowering U provide empathetic, community-led support through our experienced care team to ensure every individual receives the highest level of care.

Industry Leading Solutions: The Crash Pad and Emergency Response Team

In 2021, the community Transforming Care Partnership (TCP) team was created to provide care within service users’ homes or within their usual care settings. The Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHNFT) partnered with Empowering U to create the ‘Crash Pad’ in June 2023, which provides an intense, short-term, safe, and supportive haven for TCP clients. While the Crash Pad is a short-term solution, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) is committed to providing long-term support.

Additionally, Empowering U provides valuable support and advice to the TCP/ERT through a proactive “eyes-on” approach, effectively minimising hospital admissions. This collaboration to provide support and advice has played a significant role in the development of this partnership with the BCHNFT, to create the Crash Pad.

From January to March 2024, Empowering U has supported 24 individuals through the Crash Pad. This short-term solution provides alternative options for adults, living with learning disabilities and / or autism spectrum disorder, who are at threat of hospital admission.

The length of support and stay is as unique to an individual as their needs and can range from a few days up to a few weeks. This pioneering approach offers a secure environment, away from home and mental health units, where local people can receive effective treatment. The aim is to identify and address behavioural and mental health issues whilst allowing individuals to retain their independence.

Personal Stories: Transforming Lives

“I have been ignored whilst having a meltdown, stepped over, and walk past. I felt very distressed a lot of the time, isolated and lost because there wasn’t the staff there to support me and make me feel better. As I was having a meltdown, they didn’t understand so they just sedated me”

Daisy, a Crash Pad service user living with autism.


Empowering U and the Crash Pad have provided Daisy with the community-based support she required. Prior to using the Crash Pad, Daisy’s meltdowns would often result in her being sedated. Through Empowering U and Crash Pad support, Daisy is now able to live a happy and independent life.

“When in the community, I’m just me. I’m just being myself and I don’t feel like just a number. I feel like who I am”.

Through the support of Empowering U Care Manager, Andrea Welsh, Daisy has been able to enjoy freedom and fulfilling her needs by showering, cooking, and going to the shop independently.

“Our goal is to offer a holistic approach to care by creating a comfortable and calm atmosphere in our crash pads. Situated on a quiet street, opposite our day centre in Willenhall, we understand that we cannot prevent every admission. Therefore, we also utilise our crash pads to support hospitals in addressing their bed waiting lists as well as”.

Andrea, Care Manager at Empowering U.


Supporting Hospital Systems: The Role of Empowering U

The collaborative approach of the Empowering U and BCHNFT partnership focuses on delivering individualised 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 support along with comprehensive care for individuals living with a learning disability or ASD. Understanding the constraints faced by NHS Mental Health Units (MHU), the Crash Pad aims to identify and address the specific needs and requirements of each individual.

When contacted, Empowering U promptly travel to the emergency departments throughout the West Midlands to assist in transporting to the Crash Pad and providing support for. The Crash Pad effectively minimises the occurrence of out-of-context mimicry and repetitiveness behaviour in service-users. This is not characteristic of their normal behaviour which may be presented during their admission in hospitals.

The importance of Empowering U’s Mental Health Team cannot be understated and, in conjunction with the Crash Pad, works to provide comprehensive clinical care. The ultimate aim is to provide a robust support system that is specific to an individual’s, enabling personal transformation and recognising the uniqueness of every patient’s journey.

📹 Check out our ITV News segment here!

Understanding Brain Tumours: Brain Tumour History Month

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Taking place annually in March, Brain Tumour Awareness Month highlights the often debilitating brain injury and the impact it can have on people’s lives. Symptoms of a brain tumour, range from: dysarthria (slurred or slow speech), fatigue and tiredness, to reduced awareness states such as locked-in syndrome.  

In the following article, we explore the cause, types, effects, and the support our fantastic team delivers to people living with a brain tumour, or are living with the post-treatment impact of a brain tumour. 

What are Brain Tumours? 

Brain tumours are abnormal growths of cells within the brain or the central spinal canal. They can be classified into two main categories: 

  • Primary Brain Tumours: These are tumours that originate in the brain itself or in tissues close to it, such as the brain-covering membranes, cranial nerves, or glands like the pituitary gland. This category of brain tumour (PBTs) can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). 

Benign brain tumours typically have clearly defined borders and are not usually rooted deep within brain tissue, making them easier to remove. Although they are easier to remove, they can put pressure on the healthy tissue in the brain and subsequently this can compress and damage healthy tissue. 

Unlike benign tumours, malignant brain tumours grow and spread rapidly. These cancerous brain tumours ‘invade’ surrounding tissue and eventually erode this. 

  • Secondary Brain Tumours (Metastatic): These are tumours that have spread to the brain from other areas of the body, such as lungs, breast, or colon. Metastatic brain tumours are always cancerous and commoner than PBTs. 

What are the typical symptoms of Brain Tumours? 

The symptoms of brain tumours often depend on the size, type, and location. However, there are some typical symptoms: 

  • Headaches that are often worse in the morning 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Changes in speech, vision, or hearing 
  • Problems with balance or walking 
  • Changes in mood, personality, or ability to concentrate 
  • Memory problems 
  • Seizures or convulsions 
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs 

What are the differences between Brain Tumours and Other Brain Injuries? 

Although a brain tumour is classified as an acquired brain injury (ABI), there are clear distinctions between brain tumours and other types of acquired brain injury: 

Aspect  Brain Tumours  Other Brain Injuries 
Cause and Origin  Abnormal cell growth; unclear causes, possibly genetic or environmental factors  External force such as a blow, stroke, aneurism, or lack of oxygen 
Nature of Condition  Can be benign or malignant; involves cell growth within the brain or adjacent structures  Result of physical trauma or acute events affecting the brain; not related to cell growth 
Symptoms and Progression  Develop slowly; includes headaches, seizures, cognitive changes, depending on tumour location  Can appear immediately or evolve; include loss of consciousness, confusion, memory loss 
Treatment  Surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or combinations  Emergency care, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, life-long support, and disability management 
Long-term Implication  Possible recurrence, the need for ongoing monitoring; malignant tumours can shorten life expectancy  Range from complete recovery to permanent disability; dependent on injury severity and location 

How Empowering U supports those with brain tumours? 

Brain tumours are considered to be a type of ABI. They affect people differently, based on their location, size, and type of tumour. The effects can range from mild to severe symptoms – headaches, seizures, personality chances and will vary from person-to-person. These effects are unique to each person, so tailored treatments and care plans need to be developed to meet each clients’ needs. 

The removal of malignant brain tumours will often involve treatment such as: 

  • Chemotherapy 
  • Radiation Therapy 
  • Surgery 

Although effective, the use of these techniques can result in diffuse brain injuries – affecting a large area. Some of the subsequent symptoms of this ABI (acquired brain injury) may be temporary, however there may be times when the symptoms become severe. 

Following surgery and once ready to be discharged home, clients will often seek the support of care managers to assist them as they transition home. At this stage, our expert team will provide all of the support that is required for the client’s needs. Working with the client, their family and loved ones, and healthcare professionals, our specialist team guide them through the care and rehabilitation process. Through creating an understanding of what the client’s rehabilitative journey may look like, our team ensure communication and transparency is paramount. 

At Empowering U we focus on collaborating with individuals, their families and healthcare professionals to set realistic and achievable goals for the person’s rehabilitation and recovery journey” comments Rachel Cox – Clinical Lead within our Complex Care team.

“Our trained and experienced care teams foster a nurturing and motivational approach that encourages individuals to actively participate in their own rehabilitation.” 

Our aim is to ensure a client regains full independence, however, there are case where this is not the outcome. For some clients, they are keen to return to work, live independently, and potentially study again. In these instances, we will work with the client and those involved with their care to ensure their requirements and needs are met.  

However, for some clients this may not be possible. Therefore, bespoke care plans need to be introduced to meet individual goals. This may range from support in learning to dress themselves, self-care, socialising, or parental support. As with any brain injury, support is individualised and tailored to each client’s needs and requirements. 

If you would like to speak about our services, please contact our friendly team on: 

0330 128 1722 or email hello@empoweringu.co.uk

Ramadan 2024: A Q&A with Nadia Hussain

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Who is Nadia Hussain?

Nadia is an Occupational Therapist and Case Manager at Empowering U Case Management with over 6 years of clinical experience.  

She is also a practicing Muslim and is observing Ramadan in 2024. We recently asked Nadia to speak about what Ramadan means for her, the advice she has for non-Muslim colleagues and clients, and advice for workplaces during the month. 

What is Ramadan?

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar is one of the holiest events for Muslims around the world. The Islamic calendar follows the cycles of the Moon with Ramadan starting 11th March 2024, the first appearance of the new Moon, and ending 9th April 2024. 

During this month, most Muslims observe a strict fast from dawn until sunset and those who do fast, are unable to eat or drink during daylight hours. Fasting allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and is thought to teach self-discipline. 

What does the month of Ramadan mean to you? 

The month of Ramadan for me is a month of spirituality and connecting with ourselves. The purpose of Ramadan is to give us one month in the year to reflect and think about those less unfortunate in the world who do not have the same privileges and luxuries that we take for granted every day.  

We learn self-discipline by adhering to fasting times which then makes us feel mentally strong as the days go on. It’s also a month where families and communities come together to cook for one another, share food and eat together! Many people tend to say there’s just ‘something peaceful in the air’ during this month. Everything feels calm, joyful and rewarding. We have a celebration to mark the end of Ramadan and our achievements called ‘Eid-ul-fitr’ which can last up to 3 days of celebrating. 

Do you have advice for colleagues and clients who are non-Muslim?

Be Mindful: 

Muslims practice their religion all year round, however some people find Ramadan as a good opportunity to start practicing stronger with their prayers. It is important to make sure Muslims are able to take time out for daily prayers in their working day and they should be accommodated a quiet space/room to pray if they work in an office. 

Also, people with health issues, young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are usually exempt, but it is up to the individual if they choose to fast. While some may not be fasting, they may be observing other spiritual aspects of Ramadan, such as prayers and giving to charity.

Sometimes people feel the need to apologise if they’re eating in front of someone fasting. I know it comes from a place of wanting to be respectful but when we are fasting, we are not usually phased by that as we build a lot of self-discipline and resilience up! 

What role can a case manager play when a client is fasting?

  • Start off by wishing them ‘Ramadan Kareem’  
  • Be mindful when scheduling any meetings in case they clash with prayer times or the time of breaking their fast. 
  • Ask them if they require any support 

How can an employer support Muslim employees who are fasting?

Ask Questions:

Muslims are happy to discuss and explain their faith especially Ramadan as it is such an important month for them. It is a positive thing to increase our knowledge of different faiths and backgrounds so don’t be shy to ask questions. 

Flexible Working:

Fasting starts from sunrise to sunset which means we wake up quite early just before sunrise to have something to eat (suhoor) and then we do not eat until sunset (iftar). Therefore, people might be more tired than usual in the day without food and drink in fasting hours and may need flexible working hours. For example, they may benefit from moving their shift hours temporarily to 10-6pm as opposed to 9-5pm. 

The Legal and Practical Aspects of PI Claims – Warren Maxwell

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An introduction to Warren Maxwell

Warren Maxwell is a Partner at Stewarts Law, the UK’s largest litigation-only law firm. With over 400 staff and 80 partners, they have an international reputation for excellence, and we are delighted to be able to work with Warren Maxwell in providing this knowledgeable article.

At Stewarts, Warren works within the personal injury department and represents claimants in high-value and often complex personal injury claims. With significant experience in representing child and adult claimants with the most severe of cases, Warren is ranked Band 2 in Chambers and Partners and is described as “well versed in cases involved serious injuries arising from workplace incidents and RTAs”. Stewarts are also ranked Tier 1 in The Legal 500 with Warren noted as “at the top of his game and has a superb manner with clients and experts alike.”

When is an accident a claim?

At the outset, it’s important to recognise that accidents happen and not every accident gives the injured person a right to claim compensation.

Most of the accidents I deal with involve road traffic collisions, accidents at work or in a public area. I have also represented people injured while playing contact sports or horse riding.

In order to claim damages, it is essential to prove fault either in full or in part on another party, whether that be another driver, your employer or a contractor on site, local authority or sports player. That means being able to show that they:

  • owed you a duty to take reasonable care;
  • their conduct fell short of that duty; and
  • they exposed you to a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm.

Another consideration is whether the party who caused your injuries has insurance or other funds to meet your damages claim, and your potential legal costs. Often this is a straightforward issue, particularly with road traffic collisions and accidents at work as insurance is a legal requirement, but it can become complex. Investigations are sometimes required into cover held on household insurance policies and whether the wrongdoer has sufficient money to meet the costs of the claim personally.

I have successfully obtained damages for a number of clients who did not think they had a case so, if there is in any doubt as to whether a claim for compensation is possible, it is always best to check with a suitable lawyer.

When looking for a suitable lawyer, a useful starting point is to ensure the lawyers you speak with are experienced in handling cases involving the same type of injury as yours, for example spinal cord injury or brain injury. One way of doing this is to check whether they are accredited in that field by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)  www.apil.org.uk.

It is important to ask how many cases the lawyer currently handles. At Stewarts, each lawyer handles 10-12 cases at most as, in cases involving life changing injuries, it is important that no stone is left unturned in order to ensure the very best outcome is achieved for every client in terms of rehabilitation, care and damages.

Where a claim exists, the aim of the law is to put the injured person in the position they would have been in had the accident not happened, insofar as is possible. At Stewarts, our clients often have significant and lifelong needs, so that aim involves helping our clients to become as independent as possible so they can return to their previous lives as much as they are able.  We have an emphasis on ensuring our client’s quality of life is a good as it can possibly be, despite life-changing injuries.

The role of the personal injury lawyer in serious injury cases is to ensure their client recovers the maximum damages to which they are legally entitled. We do this by firstly ensuring our clients obtain the best rehabilitation and support available; introducing our client to experienced and suitable case managers as quickly as possible is the first step in achieving that aim.

How do you choose a case manager to work with your client?

Firstly, I always use the starting point that it is my client’s decision as to who they would like to appoint as their case manager.  The client is at the centre of the claim and this is integral to developing a trusting relationship, as claims usually take several years to conclude.

In our almost 35 years in practice, Stewarts’ personal injury lawyers have only represented accident victims with life changing injuries. As such. we have worked with many different case management companies and case managers across the country. Those we choose to work with are tried, tested and most importantly trusted, with excellent governance, record keeping, established working relationships with excellent clinicians in the wider MDT fields and a strong commitment to helping seriously injured people.

When choosing a case manager, I am a strong believer in the ‘meet & greet’ process. This is where clients are introduced to two or three case managers in order to decide who they wish to instruct. The case manager has to “fit” with the client, and with their family. It is important to remember that the client’s family are hugely affected by a life-changing injury to a loved one and must be included in accordance with the client’s wishes.  I am happy to attend the meeting to help guide the client through the process and ask any important questions.

This approach increases the client’s understanding of case management and the role the case manager will have in their rehabilitation journey, which in turn provides them with an informed choice. It also gives the client an opportunity to ask questions of each case manager as to their knowledge, their clinical and case management experience, and their likely approach to the client’s rehabilitation and care needs.

How important is the case manager in a serious injury claim?

Case managers have a key role in a serious injury claim. As our client’s ‘guides’ through their post-accident journey, their knowledge of suitable local care and rehabilitation providers is crucial in ensuring the right therapists are involved from the outset, and managed in the longer term. At Stewarts, we are always keen to work with talented and committed case managers and making new contacts is another benefit of the ‘meet & greet’ process.

When it comes to working with case managers, collaboration is crucial. Clients who have sustained life changing injuries need a huge amount of support and guidance in order to maximise the benefits of the rehabilitation and support package and regain as much independence as possible. The many ‘moving parts’ need attention and the solicitor can and should support the case manager if needed. Similarly, if funds are running low or there is an unexpected item of expenditure now on the horizon, the lawyer needs to know so that funds can be obtained before it is too late. It’s therefore essential that the case manager feels comfortable enough with the solicitor to pick up the phone and speak if needs be.

It can take time to obtain interim payments from insurance companies to fund the client’s care and rehabilitation package while the claim is running. Insurers often reasonably wish to understand what the funds are being spent on and feel confident that the funds will be used to to provide a real benefit to the injured party. Having the support from an experienced, knowledgeable and efficient case manager is often vital in securing the funds quickly.

Case managers are also important witnesses and I invariably take a witness statement from them to support the client’s claim. They have usually been involved with their client’s rehabilitation from the outset and have an intimate and detailed knowledge of our mutual client, their family and support network, rehabilitation and care needs, and how they have been met over the course of the legal claim.  Giving a statement on behalf of the client means it is likely the case manager will be called as a witness to give evidence at trial if settlement negotiations have failed and the issue of the damages, needed to meet the injured person’s lifetime needs, is determined. Fortunately such trials are relatively rare and most cases settle by negotiation.

It is also important that experts instructed by the parties to provide evidence to the court hear what the case manager has to say. These experts receive all of the relevant notes, records, reports and statements ahead of an assessment, but may only spend a few hours with the claimant before writing their reports setting out their expert opinion as to what a person’s needs are and what their long-term outcome is likely to be. The case manager should attend the expert meeting, or speak with the expert afterwards, to ensure nothing has been missed.

What are the pros and cons of the Rehabilitation Code 2015?

The Rehabilitation Code 2015 (“the Code”) provides a framework for the parties in a claim to work together outside of the litigation process to provide  rehabilitation and support to an injured person. The Code can be found here: Rehabilitation Code 2015

One of the biggest benefits of the Code to claimants is that payments that the other party’s insurer makes under the Code are paid on a 100% basis. Even if the claimant is subsequently found to be partly at fault for the accident, or even fully to blame, the insurers will have paid for the agreed items in full and cannot seek to recover the cost from the client.

One of the trade-offs is that the insurer receives simultaneous disclosure of the Immediate Needs Assessment (INA), the document produced by the case manager following our initial review of the injured person. This prevents the claimant’s solicitor having a first peek at the report and perhaps working with the case manager to emphasis certain parts of the INA for the claimant’s benefit. Other trade-offs are that;

  1. the case manager cannot be a witness in the claim, and
  2. the INA should fall outside the litigation and should not be referred to by the litigation experts.

In practice, the parties often agree to the contrary. That is my preference as case managers often make important and powerful witnesses. Experts also benefit from seeing the INA, as it is the very foundation of the care and rehabilitation package which will be subsequently commented upon by the litigation experts when they provide their reports to the court.

One issue that I do see arising, often after a case is transferred to Stewarts from another firm of solicitors, relates to ongoing simultaneous sharing of documents. Whilst the INA should be sent to the claimant and defendant’s representatives at the same time, all other notes and reports created during the subsequent case management process are covered by the usual legal principle in relation to disclosure of documents and medical records relating to the claimant, unless the parties agree otherwise. They should be sent to the claimant’s solicitor first; it is for the claimant’s solicitor to send them to the insurer or their representatives as the case progresses.

What does the perfect Case Manager’s file look like?

The claimant has a duty to disclose the case manager’s file notes and it is therefore essential that the file is prepared properly. Disclosure usually starts relatively early with the claimant agreeing to voluntary disclose documents on a rolling, often quarterly, basis.

When receiving documents from case managers, I expect to see all correspondence and telephone notes taking place over the relevant period. It is often also helpful to see notes containing the case manager’s thoughts and views at that time and any justifications for measures they have suggested, or input they consider appropriate. These contemporaneous records are often illuminating and helpful as, it has to be born in mind that memories fade and it may not be until some years later, when giving a witness statement or in trial, that the case manager is asked to explain why they chose to recommend a certain route to the claimant.  Documents can also be exhibited to a witness statement and are often helpful for the court.

Case management files are sometimes split into ‘privileged’ and ‘non privileged’ documents. This is helpful but case managers should not be too worried about getting this perfectly correct; it is the lawyer’s role to advise their client on which documents are privileged and should not be disclosed to the defendant’s insurer.

Carers daily records are also very important documents, which will be passed to the litigation care experts to comment upon. They need to be legible, thorough and informative. I often ask for ‘highs and lows’ to be recorded. Care is often one of the most contested area within damages, so good notes that justify the support and the benefit to the client are worth their weight in gold.

Having copies of all invoices evidencing the claimant’s expenditure allows their lawyer to keep an up-to-date Schedule of Loss, a document that it is necessary to provide if a court hearing to determine whether a further interim payment should be made is needed.

The least valuable document is a goal sheet that wallows without any update. If goals are not progressing, it’s best to explain why. This is something insurers will nearly always pick up on.

I always review the case manager’s notes and records as they give me another insight as to what is happening in my client’s life and rehabilitation. If there are particular issues that the claimant is struggling, the solicitor can often assist or bring in further support from the client’s barrister and/or experts who can work through any issues the claimant has.

When writing notes, it is best to always assume that the other party’s legal team and insurer, experts, barristers and judge may well read the document and that you could be questioned upon it.

It’s best not to refer to information contained in expert reports or recite the content of calls with lawyers of either side. Recordings of expert assessments should not be made unless asked by the parties’ lawyer and I would recommend that the case manager always check first with the expert before making a recording.

What are your five top tips for Case Managers?

  1. Talk to your solicitor; we should always be approachable and available to you. Sound us out on your thoughts for our mutual client’s rehabilitation and care. Ask us when funds are due in.
  2. Evidence your work. If it’s not recorded, then it (arguably) didn’t happen.
  3. Give us plenty of warning and lead in time. Often evidence is needed to justify interim payments and various steps may be needed before the request or application for funds can be made.
  4. Help out at expert appointments. You have so much useful information about your client’s care and rehabilitation needs that the court will benefit from hearing.
  5. Talk to your solicitor; it’s so important, it’s worth mentioning twice.

For further questions and queries contact:

Barry Lehane

RGN, LLM

Head of Case Management and Rehabilitation

barry.lehane@eucm.co.uk – 07928 511 071

Jenny Mitchell

BA (Hons), CMgr, MCMI

Head of Business Operations

jennifer.mitchell@eucm.co.uk – 07842 245 019

An electric wheelchair in an urban environment with an individual with complex needs

Complex Needs: What are these?

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The term complex needs has become an important term, referring to a mix of physical, mental, social, or environmental challenges affecting a person’s well-being. While lacking a universal definition, these needs are crucial to understand for developing effective care support systems. This article explores the various aspects of complex needs, highlighting the importance of a holistic and empathetic approach in addressing them.

Defining Complex Needs

Complex needs refer to the combination of multiple and linked challenges some individuals experience simultaneously. People with complex needs often have requirements that span their physical health, mental health, wellbeing, education, and employment. Individuals who fall under this umbrella often require a higher level of support and intervention.

Understanding the Complexity

It is important to recognise the various factors that contribute to an individual’s requirements and their complex needs. People with complex needs often face a combination of physical, psychological, and social difficulties that can include:

  1. Physical health conditions: Individuals may have chronic illnesses, disabilities, or complex medical conditions that require ongoing medical treatments and interventions. These conditions can significantly affect their daily functioning and quality of life.
  2. Mental health issues: Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or personality disorders can contribute to the complexity of an individual’s needs. These issues require appropriate diagnosis, management, and support from mental health professionals.
  3. Learning disabilities: Learning disabilities can affect an individual’s ability to acquire and apply knowledge, leading to challenges in education, employment, and daily living. Specialised support and interventions are necessary to address these needs effectively.
  4. Trauma and adverse life experiences: Individuals who have experienced trauma or adverse life events may have complex psychological needs. These experiences can include abuse, neglect, violence, loss, or significant disruptions in their lives.
  5. Substance abuse and addiction: Substance abuse and addiction can present complex needs that require specialised interventions. Treating the addiction while addressing any underlying mental health issues is essential for successful recovery.

The Importance of Addressing Complex Needs

Ensuring a person receives the appropriate support and resources is necessary to improve their well-being and functioning. Our highly trained and specialist care team work to understand a person’s needs and provide the best possible care for the individual.

By working to provide a comprehensive and integrated package of care, those with complex needs experience positive outcomes including:

  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Enhance social connections
  • An increased quality of life
  • Better education outcomes
  • Greater employment opportunities

How the Empowering U team work to support individuals with Complex Needs

Complex needs require a comprehensive, adaptable, and person-centred approach to address the challenges presented. Empowering U has a team of highly trained and multi-disciplined care managers, support staff, registered nurses, and nursing associates. This team provides the important know-how to design a client-specific package of long-term holistic care.

Working in line with NICE guideline (NG216), some key strategies and approaches that we employ to provide effective support include:

  1. Person-centred planning: Focuses on the person’s goals, aspirations, and strengths while involving them in decision-making processes. It empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their complex needs and promotes autonomy and self-determination.
  2. Care team collaboration: Collaboration between different care team members, such as registered nurses, mental health specialists, and physiotherapists is crucial to ensure coordinated and holistic care. Sharing information and their expertise allows for a more comprehensive understanding of needs, enabling tailored and effective support.
  3. Early intervention and prevention: Identifying and addressing early on can prevent further deterioration and improve outcomes. Early intervention and preventive measures can support individuals who may be at risk of aggravating their needs further.
  4. Continuous evaluation and improvement: Regular monitoring and evaluation of support interventions are essential to identify gaps and areas for improvement. This enables our care team to adapt and refine their approaches to meet the evolving needs of individuals.

Complex needs require a comprehensive and person-centred approach to address the challenges faced by individuals with complex needs. By fostering an attitude of collaboration, person-centred care, and collaborative support, our complex care team effectively supports and empowers each other to improve the well-being and quality of life of the individual with complex needs.

UKABIF Summit 2023 Reflection

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Monday 6th November played host to the UKABIF (United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum) Summit 2023. This event brought together key parties involved in the rehabilitation and care of individuals with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury).  

Barry Lehane RGN, LLM (Head of Case Management and Rehabilitation), Jennifer Mitchell BA (Hons), CMgr MCMI (Head of Business Operations), and Andrew Williams CMgr FCMI (Divisional Director) provide a UKABIF Summit 2023 Reflection. 

Hosted in Manchester, the UKABIF Summit 2023 had a feature rich programme consisting of 14 speakers and provided valuable insights into the latest research, treatment approaches, and support systems for those affect by a brain injury. Industry leading specialists and organisations to exchange ideas and insights into the brain injury sector. Attendees represented legal firms, case managers, rehabilitation providers, and professors. 

UKABIF Summit 2023 

A standout speaker slot was the “Experts by Experience” talk, in which three young adults shared their inspiring and triumphant stories of returning to education following a brain injury. Their victories extend beyond the physical and cognitive challenges of brain injuries; they have also confronted the demanding task of resuming their education.  

Hearing their accounts first-hand, reaffirmed the nature of the work all in audience undertake daily to support the neurorehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, and the confidence of those with brain injuries. Individuals with a brain injury are a testament to the human sprit’s capacity to overcome adversity; an underscoring of the truth that every setback bears the potential for an even greater comeback. 

Meeting various firms and individuals who represent through litigation proceedings, support an individual through rehabilitation, and support those with brain injuries was a great tool to share ideas and inspirational stories to support others. These insights and experiences offer an incredibly valuable perspective into the possibilities that lie in the present and future of rehabilitation and reintegration after catastrophic injuries, especially for younger individuals who are working towards the sake of their future. 

Looking ahead 

This unique opportunity to share a space with like-minded individuals and firms allows Empowering U Case Management (EUCM) to think about our clients’ journeys; a reaffirmation of the EUCM aim to guide our clients on a rehabilitation journey that facilitates a return to an active, satisfying life. The speakers and networking opportunities throughout the event motivated the entire EUCM team to further our mission and highlighted the importance of continued client support through their journey of recovery. A valuable perspective was the possibilities and the future of rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals following a catastrophic injury, especially for younger individuals who are working towards the fate of their future.  

Events like these are incredibly important in sharing the latest within ABI and BI rehabilitation. Empowering U greatly appreciate the opportunity to be able to attend and exhibit, listen to important topics from brilliant speakers, and meet fellow industry professionals. We have brought a lot of things back with us that we intend to implement throughout the business going forward. 

Looking into 2024, Empowering U are keen to attend this brilliant platform again. Thank you UKABIF for an amazing summit!