How to work with your Rehab Provider

If you have been injured at work, it’s likely that you would have heard of the term rehabilitation provider. In this podcast, Bourke Legal Director, Pania Watt, talks about how you can work effectively with your rehabilitation provider.

How you can work effectively with your rehabilitation provider?


Dan: If you’ve been injured at work, it’s likely that you would’ve heard of the term ‘rehabilitation provider’. Well, in today’s podcast, I’m with Bourke legal director, Pania Watt, and we’re discussing how to work effectively with your rehabilitation provider. Pania, I’ve heard you talk before about rehabilitation providers and the role they play in the workers’ compensation scheme. But what actually is a rehabilitation provider?

Pania: Dan, a rehabilitation provider is a company like Connect or Recover or IPA, and they’re appointed by the workers’ compensation insurer to manage the claim for the insurer as their person on the ground, and the rehabilitation provider appoints an injured worker with the rehabilitation consultant, and that person’s job is to liaise with all the relevant people in the workers’ comp process, and those people are the injured worker, their treatment team, and the employer, and all with the goal of trying to get the injured person back to work.

Dan: Okay, so how does a rehabilitation consultant help your clients?

Pania: The rehabilitation consultant can do things like a vocational assessment of an injured worker, and that involves assessing that person’s skills, their education and their experience to work out what other kinds of jobs that person can do when taking into account the restrictions that they have because of their injury.

The rehabilitation consultant might come out to the work site and assess any changes that need to be made or equipment, special equipment that needs to be supplied so that, that person can return to work safely and without the fear of being re-injured or of making the injury or their disabilities get worse.

Rehabilitation consultants help injured workers with preparing a resume and applying for jobs, and they give them help with job interviews or just identifying training opportunities to help that person to be competitive in the job market, because that’s difficult when you’re dealing with an injury and you have restrictions because of that injury to be competitive with other able bodied or unrestricted workers competing for the same job.

The rehabilitation consultant can often communicate between an injured worker and the insurer, and this could mean putting suggestions for training or education opportunities to the insurer, or asking the insurer for approval for certain types of treatment or equipment for the workplace, or just passing on the injured worker’s certificates of capacity and providing an update on that person’s recovery. When the rehab consultant does their job well, it actually is a really great assistance to all injured workers.

Dan: I see, so what happens when a rehabilitation consultant doesn’t do their job right?

Pania: Dan, I’ve talked about this in other podcasts, but as you might be able to tell, when my clients aren’t treated well by rehab consultants, that’s really my pet hate, and what I’d like every person who’s listening to this to take away from it is that you have a right to privacy, even if you’re bringing a claim for compensation. If you suspect that your rehab consultant isn’t acting as they should and they’re overstepping what you think they should and shouldn’t be allowed to do, then you’re probably right, and by this I mean that your rehab consultant is only entitled to attend appointments with your doctor, which are case conferences.

A case conference is a conference that’s organised by the insurer or the rehab provider with you and your doctor, and it’s normally held at your doctor’s office with the insurer’s case manager attending by telephone. The purpose of that conference is to get everybody in the treatment team together to discuss the recovery and work out a plan of action. A rehab consultant is just not entitled to attend each and every one of your doctor’s appointments with you, and this applies whether you’re seeing your specialist or your GP, it doesn’t matter. Your doctor’s appointments are private, and I’ve seen this happen so, so many times, where clients have allowed rehab consultants to come to each and every one of their doctor’s appointments, and it’s just not appropriate, it is not on.

Another thing, a rehab consultant is not entitled to change or amend your doctor’s appointment dates and times on your behalf. I’ve seen that happen too. Finally, a rehab consultant doesn’t need to be present at your doctor’s appointment when you update your certificate of capacity. That is also private. You can and you should talk with your doctor alone about what restrictions are appropriate for your certificate. Actually, the final point that I want to make about rehab consultants is if you’re told that you should lie to a prospective employer about your injury or about being on workers’ compensation, don’t listen.

Rehab consultants get paid to get you back to work, and I think sometimes that KPI is just a bit too enticing for them, and the last thing that you need as a person with an injury is to be placed in a position where your new employer doesn’t know that you have restrictions that you’ve got to observe, so you don’t hurt yourself further. It’s just a recipe for disaster, just don’t do it.

Dan: So Pania, what do you recommend that your clients do if they don’t get along with their rehabilitation consultant?

Pania: Dan, I think the really important thing to keep in mind is that a rehab consultant can be really helpful. It’s really well established that getting back to work is helpful to recover from injury, not just physically, but mentally too. Having somewhere to be and a reason to get up and get moving in the morning is really important.

That said, if my clients are complaining to me of pushy rehab consultants being the kind that just won’t take no for an answer or who insist on my clients doing things that they don’t feel okay with, the advice that I give to them is number one, make a complaint to the rehabilitation provider company about the consultant’s behaviour, and number two, make the same complaint to the insurer.

If those complaints don’t resolve the issue, you actually can ask the insurer to remove the rehabilitation provider company from your case and appoint a different one. SIRA approves all of the rehab provider companies that provide services to injured workers in the New South Wales workers’ comp scheme. So if things aren’t really not good, you can also make a complaint to SIRA by calling 13 10 50.

Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Bourke Legal on 1300 026 875.