As a nationwide company specialising in providing Case Management for children, young people and adults with catastrophic injury, ILS is enormously proud of the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills within its highly experienced case management team. One of the key areas for which we have an excellent reputation is supporting clients living with spinal injury. Waving the flag for a career in this field is ILS Spinal Case Manager, Sophie Lester. Here, Sophie tells us about her background and path into case management, and the rewards of working closely with clients living with spinal injury.
Of her role as a Case Manager, Sophie says: “I worked for a long time in statutory services, really loved it. But as a case manager, I have the ability to look past the discharge process. The focus is not about discharge planning. It’s about focussing on client goals, and it gives you the ability to look at a wider scope of provision to fulfil those goals.”
She continues: “A really good example is planning and helping someone to go on holiday, perhaps to the United States or abroad, where actually in statutory services, that's just not possible due to the focus of discharge planning. And you can be as creative as you need to be and really tailor the solutions to the individual.”
Sophie explains though that while a key focus of the role is supporting clients to achieve their goals, there are many other elements that need to be coordinated to facilitate or provide the scaffolding around client goals and rehabilitation. She tells us: “I would describe case management in several different ways, but the best analogy that that I have is liking it very much to an orchestra and being a conductor of that orchestra. You have that ability to see the overall picture and what might be needed to get the end result. As a Case Manager you use your expertise to break down those component parts with the client – what are their goals, what areas are challenging for them? And you can pull in different services, such as neuro physiotherapy, occupational therapy, wheelchair services, equipment, moving handling advisers or statutory services to help achieve that result or goal.
But while Sophie has found the role so fulfilling, the decision to move from statutory services was not an easy one for her. She tells us: “I was lucky enough to be working in Spinal Injuries, so I was always working with spinal clients. I was very comfortable in the statutory service setting. The idea of moving into the private sector felt very scary to me. It took somewhere in the region of two years to finally make that leap, because I needed to feel comfortable that I would have enough work and there were these services available in the private sector. It was a very scary jump for me.”
She continues: “By taking that time though, I was very confident when I made the move because I was able to understand that all the benefits were there, just perhaps in a different way. And I am lucky enough to be working completely with spinal injured clients. And I have never had a shortage of work in terms of case management.”
Since making the move into case management, Sophie has found the role even more rewarding than she had imagined. She tells us: “As a case manager, you work with clients on really specific individual goals, and you can explore multiple aspects of these goals with the clients. To do that, you need to have your own knowledge and keep yourself up to date with developments and new things that are coming out.
“I've had the opportunity to develop my knowledge and learning in areas such as new neurogenic pain management, new technologies, and the litigation process which, whilst as a case manager we don't really get involved in, you need to have that underlying understanding to help you appreciate what's happening around your client. I've been able to develop in all sorts of areas that I genuinely don't think I would have done remaining in an NHS setting.”
But ultimately the most rewarding aspect, Sophie says, is supporting her clients in achieving their goals. She explains: “The most enjoyable thing is working with the clients. It's about being able to work on your client's individual goals. You can have two clients with very similar presentations or very similar goals, but how you get there is completely different. Seeing your client being able to achieve that goal is priceless. And it is just so rewarding to know that you've played a part in supporting the client to do that, it’s just lovely.”
Now very settled in her role, Sophie has been a Spinal Case Manager at ILS for over 6 years and shares her reasons as to why she feels ILS was the right place to embark on this career change. She tells us: “ILS are very client centred. The client is genuinely at the heart of everything they do. And because of this they are also incredibly supportive of their case managers. I have access to regular mentorship; we have a great head office which includes a dedicated Client HR team who provide fantastic support. The whole ILS team are there for you as a Case Manager and it allows you to really be able to do your job for the client.”
So, was the move worth it? Sophie believes very strongly that it was, she says: “100 percent it was worth the move. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to make my decision, but it has been so worthwhile. Personally, I think I have a much better work life balance now. But I’ve got what I was really striving for, which is the ability to look past discharge and to look at being able to really carry on with rehabbing or supporting my clients to achieve the life that they want following what often is a horrific, catastrophic injury.”
Does she think others should make the same move? Absolutely. “I would encourage anyone who's thinking about case management to just get in touch. If you work in one of those areas that deals with catastrophic injuries, you’ve probably met a case manager. I am always happy to talk to people about case management, my worries about moving, and how I overcame that. But my last piece of advice would be – just do it! It is so rewarding and so worthwhile.”