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ACC Rehab. Not Adequately Assisting Claimants

BIG NEWS INVESTIGATES ACC

ACC’s Rehabilitation Is Not Adequately Assisting Claimants


By Dave Crampton

One of the key aspects in the Accident Compensation scheme is rehabilitation, which aims to assist claimants back to their pre-accident condition, or back to some form of employment.

Yet all the ACC cases perused by this writer over the past few weeks indicate that the majority of the rehabilitation provided has no clear aim of restoring the claimant to their pre accident condition, or anywhere near close to it. In some cases the case manager wouldn’t know where to start with rehabilitation as they are probably not qualified to be case managers in the first place.

One claimant who has been on ACC for 10 years received a rehabilitation plan to sign in less than a week just before Christmas. The aim of this plan was to return the claimant to work. Yet the medical reports in his file state he was not even able to travel to work, let alone do work when he got there. So how is he going to be fit to travel to a job interview?

Perhaps a realistic outcome would have been to provide social – based rehabilitation until specialists say he is able to do some form of work. Understandably the claimant, who lives alone and is unable to drive, did not sign that plan. Not so understandably is that the case manager has not been proactive in ascertaining the extent of the claimants injury and providing the required rehabilitation. Nor did he answer a series of written questions put to him about his rehabilitation.

The same claimant’s case manager has turned down an application for a mobility scooter because it would not assist the claimant in returning to work. Not only has the case manager never attempted to find out how injured the claimant is, he has shown no interest in providing the claimant a better quality of life. Instead he has arranged for an assessment of the claimant’s home assistance with the possibility of reducing it further. He has not arranged for a specialist report to ascertain the claimant’s medical condition, despite there being no decent medical report on the claimant’s file since November 2001.

No wonder the injured claimant is angry with the Corporation. No wonder he still walks with a limp and is unable to stand up straight. No wonder he got a visit from the police when he posted on an Internet message board that he’d “had enough”. Some thought he was to attempt suicide. No wonder he is overweight – ACC refuse to provide exercise-based rehabilitation. The case manger has not initiated any form of retraining for work purposes despite having an aim of returning to work. It’s a real shambles. The claimant bought his own computer in an attempt to gain new skills himself. That computer is his window to the world.

Yet he is not alone. Many who want to get well have asked for complete copies of their files and are staggered at the condition the files are in, let alone the condition of their injured bodies. In every case the papers are not in order. In several cases one half of a medical report is in one half of the file with the rest in the other half. Some assessments are missing, while others are copied two or three times. It is obvious that case managers do not check copy files before sending to claimants and solicitors.

On one file perused by this writer, a claimant received a medical report, an IRD number, a solicitors letter, a detailed medical report, and an assessment for rehabilitation. That may sound fine but in every case the reports were done for five other ACC claimants. They were placed on the incorrect file. The claimant concerned was sent copies of this documentation on no less than three separate occasions, the most recent last month after he again requested a copy of his file with the papers in order. What he got was a mess. Having confidential documents sitting in incorrect files and sending these documents to unrelated claimants clearly breaches the Privacy Act, yet ACC management don’t seem to care. Management know about it as it has been happening for years. It may also explain why this claimant has missing information from his file – perhaps it is filed in with other ACC files and sent on to other claimants.

So it is no wonder that ACC claimants are unable to be adequately rehabilitated when the files are kept in such a shambles. ACC Manager Garry Wilson says he has full faith in case management, yet he refuses to show any interest in how case managers actually manage their cases.

What ACC needs is ACCountability.

ENDS

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