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6.2 Overview of psychosocial rehabilitation

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Last amended 
19 September 2018

Background

‘Psychosocial rehabilitation’ is a broad term used to describe a set of rehabilitation interventions which may improve a client’s quality of life and in so doing, support achievement of their overall rehabilitation goals. In DVA, psychosocial rehabilitation is delivered as one element within the continuum of support—which may include treatment, vocational rehabilitation and medical management—to help meet a client’s health and wellbeing needs.

Findings from research indicate that psychosocial factors are often the main predictors of successful rehabilitation outcomes, particularly vocational outcomes. Inclusion of psychosocial interventions in a rehabilitation program is therefore important to progressing recovery, achieving positive rehabilitation outcomes and maintaining long term wellbeing. In most cases, psychosocial interventions will provide relatively short term support with the aim of helping the person to self-manage their accepted conditions, focus on their strengths and move forward from a service related injury or illness.
 

Psychosocial interventions should help clients achieve their rehabilitation goals

Psychosocial activities should be focused on assisting clients to overcome barriers to achieve their rehabilitation goals. It is important that rehabilitation providers utilise Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) when identifying a client's rehabilitation goals and objectives, and when measuring progress and life satisfaction as clients participate in psychosocial rehabilitation activities.

The inclusion of psychosocial interventions in a rehabilitation program should be based on professional advice/evidence. This may be from a whole-of-person rehabilitation assessment, which examines a client’s rehabilitation needs and life circumstances. The need for a psychosocial intervention may also be identified by the rehabilitation provider through the clients treating medical practitioners, allied health providers, family and/or other supports, or through working directly with the client.


Psychosocial interventions can be used to help address barriers that are not directly attributable to accepted condition/s

DVA’s whole-of-person approach means there is flexibility in being able to include psychosocial rehabilitation activities on an approved rehabilitation plan, to address needs that may not be directly related to an accepted condition. This is because addressing the holistic needs of a client can assist them to participate in, and achieve their broader rehabilitation goals. Section 6.5 of this library provides examples of psychosocial activities that may be supported to address a client’s needs, beyond those stemming from accepted condition/s. This may include psychosocial interventions to develop and improve:

  • life management skills;
  • self-management of health conditions;
  • family functioning;
  • social connectedness; and
  • meaningful engagement with family and the broader community.

If there is any doubt about providing psychosocial or other services not directly related to a person's accepted conditions, Rehabilitation Coordinators should please discuss this with their team leader. If required, advice can be sought from the Policy Development and Advice team at rehabilitation@dva.gov.au
 

Psychosocial interventions are intended to be ‘short-term’

The meaning of "short term" is flexible, will be determined by the client's individual needs and circumstances, and the barriers that need to be overcome to assist the person to make progress towards their rehabilitation goals. Psychosocial interventions should be tailored to the needs of the individual, and provide a sufficient duration of support to assist the client to achieve rehabilitation objectives identified through the Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) process.

Client’s needs and circumstances vary, even when experiencing similar injuries or conditions. Appropriate professional advice should be used to inform the reasonable duration of any psychosocial activity incorporated into a rehabilitation program. As a general principle, psychosocial rehabilitation interventions should be time-limited, closely monitored and reported on. Where extension of an activity is requested, it is expected that positive progress and active participation in the activity is evident. The GAS process should be used to assist in gauging the effectiveness of psychosocial rehabilitation interventions.


In what cases can ongoing psychosocial rehabilitation be appropriate?

For clients with severe disabilities who, due to their accepted conditions, require 24 hour care, an ongoing psychosocial rehabilitation plan may be required to ensure that they are able to access support to participate in community and recreational activities. More detailed guidelines about this support can be found in section 6.10 of this library.


Key considerations:

  • Interventions should be centered on assisting clients to overcome barriers to achieve their rehabilitation goals.
  • Psychosocial interventions in a rehabilitation program should be based on professional advice/evidence. Section 6.6 of this library provides the framework for determining if an activity is reasonable.
  • There is flexibility to include psychosocial rehabilitation interventions to address needs that may not be caused by an accepted condition. Section 6.5 of this library provides examples.
  • Psychosocial interventions are intended to be short term in nature. Professional advice/evidence can be used to help determine the duration and direction of psychosocial interventions.
  • As a general principle, psychosocial rehabilitation interventions should be closely monitored and reported on. The GAS process should be used.