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Pilot to enhance independence of seriously injured clients

ACC Media Release

5 September 2013

Pilot aims to enhance independence of seriously injured clients

A serious injury can rob you of your dignity and independence – but ACC is trialling a new way to help give it back.

The ‘self-management pilot’ is all about ensuring clients with permanent injury-related disabilities get the support they need – but have more control over how the support is provided.

Participants in the trial will be paid a budget relevant to their particular injury-related needs – and they’ll be free to manage that budget as they see fit.

“For many people living with a disability, they’re no longer able to do personal tasks such as showering and getting dressed by themselves,” says ACC’s General Manager of Claims Management, Sid Miller.  “That in itself is a huge loss of independence which can also be very humiliating, and this can be accentuated further if they feel they have to rely on ACC to oversee every aspect of their support.

“This pilot will see ACC take a step back, so we’re not so involved in clients’ day-to-day lives.  We’re really keen to see if they find this a positive experience, and one they’d like to see ACC introduce as a permanent option.”

Clients can choose what types of services and support they need, the extent to which they manage this, and how they go about it  – everything from arranging assistance for showering, dressing, cooking, cleaning and childcare, to buying things like pharmaceuticals, medical consumables (such as surgical gloves and wipes), small equipment, injury-related travel expenses, podiatry and regular day activity programmes.

ACC will continue to pay all treatment costs and any income-related compensation that clients are receiving.

One person who’s been advocating for the changes being trialled is Pati Umaga, who sustained a spinal injury when he slipped in the shower a number of years ago. 

Pati chairs ACC’s Serious Injury Advisory Group, which represents the views of clients living with a disability, and he’s also a member of ACC’s Consumer Outlook Group, which provides an external perspective on the development of ACC policy and practices.

“It’s really positive to see ACC moving in this direction, because it’s something that clients such as myself have been pushing for.  Just giving that sense of self-control back to people, who’ve had a lot of the control taken away from their lives, is really important.”

Kendall Akhurst, a proposition design manager for Westpac, is one of the first ACC clients to take part in the pilot.

“After a rugby injury which resulted in a spinal injury, ACC provided a lot of support to help me get my life back on track, including help to go back to work.  I’m grateful for that support, but at the same time, I’m like anyone else who just wants to enjoy the independence of being in control of my own life. Ideally, I don’t want to have to go through ACC every time, for every single bit of support I need.”

The pilot has kicked off initially with seven clients, and more clients will join over the coming months.

“Not every seriously injured client will be asked to take part,” says Mr Miller, “because it’s important that a client’s support needs are stable, to enable them to gain the most benefit from this new approach.  But if the pilot proves successful, we’d like to make the option of self-management available to as many suitable clients as possible.”


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