NR Times Articles - 28 March 2024 - 4 minutes

How the role of the mentor helps to shape best practice in case management

How the role of the mentor helps to shape best practice in case management

I qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 2002 and have worked in a variety of settings both in the UK and abroad. Following a move back to the UK from New Zealand I was looking for a new work challenge that also fitted in with family life. I had a friend who worked as a Case Manager, but to be honest, I had never heard of this role. She explained what was involved in case management and said she felt that my skills as an OT would be a good fit for a case manager. After a successful application to ILS, I began working for them in 2011. I soon found that I loved the unpredictability that often came with the job – you never knew, after a weekend, what would face you when you turned your phone and laptop on! In 2020 ILS advertised for a Professional Mentor role. I am passionate about the company, their values and the support that case managers receive from them, and I was keen to become part of that support system, so it felt like the next logical step in my career to apply for the role. Following my interview, I was offered the position and started work as a Professional Mentor in early 2020.

ILS currently employs a team of six professional mentors. We are all highly experienced clinicians with advanced BABICM membership. Every case manager in the company regardless of their level of experience, has a professional mentor. As professional mentors, we do not hold our own caseload of clients which allows us to be responsive to the needs of our case managers and support them as much as possible. It also enables us to cover our mentees caseload when they are absent, as we have an in-depth knowledge of their cases through the mentorship process. This ensures consistency and continuity for our clients and their families and reassures our referrers.

The role of the professional mentor is multi-faceted. As part of the management team, professional mentors are involved in strategic planning and assist with developing robust client centred tools for case managers to use that demonstrate a clear clinical pathway.

As part of the mentoring process, case managers have formal mentorship sessions at least every 6 weeks. This allows the mentor to not only support the case manager but to challenge them, encouraging them to reflect on their practice when things have gone well but also when things have not gone to plan. Reflective practice allows case managers to learn through experience and gain new insights into themselves and their practice. It can be used to predict future learning needs so these can be put in place through the CPD process to encourage professional development. Case managers have yearly appraisals with their mentor and set their objectives for the coming year ensuring they can grow in their role with the support provided and continue to develop professionally.

As mentors, we strive for best practice and support our case managers to be truly client centred and embrace our company values. As part of this process, we carry out observational visits yearly. I recently went with a case manager to visit their client on an agricultural work-based placement. I was able to see first-hand the relationship between the client and the case manager and how she was able to establish with her client what his goals for the future were. Having implemented some previous goals, this client now has two lovely cockapoo dogs which he can bring to his work placement, he also has the support of a dog trainer and dog walker, which ensured that the goal set was realistic and achievable. He was very proud to show how he handled the dogs and the training techniques he had learned. Following the visit, the case manager and I were able to reflect on the visit and view her work with him in terms of her approach and following good clinical governance.

I believe that ILS is unique in the way that they have invested consistently in the company’s mentor structure to ensure that both case managers and the clients receive the best support and achieve excellent outcomes.
I enjoy my role as a Professional Mentor and have been able to meet a lot of clients and acquire an in-depth knowledge of many more. ILS is a company, that actively demonstrates how it supports not only its clients, but its staff too, and it is extremely rewarding to be part of a company with strong values at its core.


This article was also published on on 18th January 2024