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11.5 Choosing the Right Rehabilitation Service Provider
Rehabilitation providers must meet a number of requirements in order to work with DVA clients. These are outlined in sections 11.1 and 11.2 of the Rehabilitation Policy Library. In addition, DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator’s must choose a rehabilitation provider with the most appropriate skills and experience to assist an individual client to reach their rehabilitation goals. It is therefore important that the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator utilises a whole of person approach and develops as broad an understanding as possible of the issues that the client is experiencing, their health status, and any indications of any potential barriers to rehabilitation, prior to making a referral for a rehabilitation assessment. This information will help determine which provider the client will be matched with.
Need to document choice of provider
DVA is accountable for ensuring that our clients receive the best support possible from their rehabilitation provider in assisting them to reach their rehabilitation goals, and that value for money is achieved. It is therefore a mandatory requirement that whenever a referral is made to a specific rehabilitation provider, the DVA Rehabilitation Coordinator records their reasons for choosing that provider. The reason must be recorded as a note under the relevant assessment tab with the heading 'Choice of Provider' so that the information is easily identifiable. Information to be recorded can include the provider’s expertise relevant to the client’s identified needs or medical conditions, the provider’s availability, past experience and outcomes achieved with other DVA clients. If relevant, the preferences of the client should also be documented if this has influenced the choice of provider.
Considering which provider to refer to
It is important that the Rehabilitation Coordinator refers the client to the most appropriately skilled and qualified rehabilitation service provider relevant to the client's needs. For example:
- a medical management rehabilitation program that enhances a client's ability to manage their treatment and health needs indicates that a referral to a provider with excellent case management skills and the ability to support a client to become more able to ask questions of their health professionals and manage their treatment may be appropriate;
- a psychosocial rehabilitation program that focuses on a client's independent living needs may indicate referral to an Occupational Therapist may be appropriate;
- a psychosocial rehabilitation program that focuses on community involvement indicates that referral to a Social Worker may be most appropriate; and
- if a person requires a vocational rehabilitation program that may require vocational assessment, retraining and job seeking then this indicates that it may be appropriate to select a rehabilitation counsellor with specific skills in assisting clients to return to employment in a different role with a different employer, after injury or illness.
Timeliness of referral
A referral to a DVA accredited rehabilitation service provider should be made at the earliest possible stage to keep the client moving forward and provide the best opportunity for them to start working towards their rehabilitation goals as quickly as possible. This is particularly important where a client is experiencing difficulties in making the transition from Defence to civilian life, and may therefore require a range of rehabilitation interventions to support them.
Client needs must be central
Where a client is likely to require a range of rehabilitation assistance, wherever possible, it is preferable to select a single rehabilitation provider organisation who can provide the majority of services that a client requires. For example, if an organisation employs an Occupational Therapist, Social Worker and a Rehabilitation Counsellor then information can be shared between each of these individual providers, without the need for the client to retell their whole story if they require different types of assistance at different times. However, it is important to ensure that no conflict of interest arises and the client's best interests are always central and that each rehabilitation consultant’s role is clearly understood and communicated to the client.
For example, if a rehabilitation service provider company provides clinical services, such as clinical counselling, then this may create a potential conflict of interest if the same individual rehabilitation consultant provides both treatment and medical management rehabilitation to the same client. This is because the role of a medical management rehabilitation provider is not to provide treatment or medical advice, but rather to support the client to remain on-track, and progress with their treatment. There is a risk in this scenario that the role of the rehabilitation consultant could become "blurred" and confused if they delivered both of these services at the same time to the client.