Dear honourable workcover rehabilitation consultant,
I am taking the liberty to write you this letter to thank you profusely for taking your precious time to discuss the possibility of you becoming my workcover rehabilitation consultant to assist me with alternative job-seeking. Given my mentioned past negative experience with a workcover rehabilitation consultant, I am essentially writing to you to assess whether you would be suitable for the job. I would be very grateful if you could take a moment out of your busy day to answer the following questions I have:
1. Will you, as my new workcover rehabilitation consultant work in my best interest as an injured worker foremost, and not in the best interest of the workcover insurance agent?
2. Will you be fair, open, transparent, honest and ethical in all your interactions with me, the injured worker, and refrain of writing denigrating, criticising letters and reports to my workcover insurer as to shift a potentially unsuccessful job-seeking endeavour on me, the injured worker?
3. Will you, as my rehabber solely focus on encouragingly and empathically supporting me, the injured worker in my job applications?
4. Will you at all times be cooperating with me, the injured worker, in the preparation of appropriate and suitable return to work plans and/or job-seeking activities?
5. Will you, as my rehabber, support me to find employment in my own qualified profession/trade foremost, and not coerce me to seek menial, humiliating alternative employment for the sake of you getting a bonus payout from my workcover insurer?
6. Will you, as my rehabilitation service provider, accept to mutually agree on my upcoming job-seeking requirements and job-seeking goals which are within my abilities, and not overwhelm me nor threaten me with stringent and multiple senseless job applications? In other words, will your job-seeking requirements not exceed those of, for example, Centrelink?
7. Are you willing to adopt positive and constructive feedback of my prospective job applications, rather than scream, yell, threaten and criticise me and calling me a failure?
8. Would you be transparent in your discussions, notes, assessments, reports and any other feedback you may write about me to my workcover case manager? Will you agree to provide me with unaltered copies of all your case notes, correspondence and any other written material about me you may have on file if I should request so under the Freedom of Information Act? (section s 42 of The Privacy Act 1988).
9. Lastly, will you agree, in accordance with the relevant workers’ compensation legislation, that every single of my job applications will include the mandatory disclosure of my impairments and/or disabilities, provided I believe they may well affect the requirements of the positions I will apply for?
Wouldn’t it be nice if all workcover rehab service providers would readily agree to such injured workers terms?
Fat chance you will get any workcover rehab service provider to agree with your terms, let alone sign them off.
Most rehabbers we have discussed this with say that such ‘terms’ are not compatible with their vested interests! Why not? Well, their primary duty is to all other stakeholders within the workers’ compensation system – foremost to the workcover insurance company, the company who actually pays them. Most workcover rehabilitation service providers (eg. large companies) are private companies driven by profit. They make money by coercing an injured worker into ANY kind of employment, and by ANY means.
At least by writing such a letter to your (prospective) workcover rehabilitation consultant, you are making your expectations very clear, and your rehabber will be well aware, from the start, that you know your rights and that you are prepared to stand up for your rights!
1. It all pretty much starts with a so-called vocational assessment
Many so-called Vocational Assessors you are referred to by workcover insurance companies, will use nothing more than computer testing for “suitable jobs”! This does not take into effect that many injured workers have a multiple of things the matter with them above their main diagnosis and may be socially and otherwise disabled or impaired. Injured workers’ jobs should not just be suitable jobs but should also be AVAILABLE and giving substantive gainful employment – measures ignored by workcover insurance companies and rehabbers alike who will terminate cases for any excuse. I call this the “you could be a funeral director” scam.
The “I Feel You Could Be a Funeral Director” Scam as identified by workcover vocational assessment
One of the latest used and most prolific of scams is called something akin to Transferable Skills Analysis using National Occupation Classification
A case manager, rehabilitation consultant or a referred vocational assessor, who may never have seen the injured worker, will put into a computer “the diagnosis” of the injured worker, and out will pop some suggested jobs and occupations.
Telling someone to be a funeral director when that person has zero people skills is just a fuc*ing joke. However, our workcover insurers are serious and do terminate workcover claims or benefits with those expectations!!! In my own, case, I was (prematurely) sent for a “vocational” assessment. In my last job I was working as an executive manager in a large public hospital but my employer (and the workcover insurer for that matter) decided to sack me after my last major surgery, despite the fact that I had a certificate of capacity allowing me to do the same job as I was doing prior to the last surgery (and with the requested, reasonable ergonomic aides, which were never provided to me, although requested repeatedly for years– this is not a joke). Anyway, not only was I suicidal at the time of the “vocational” (it occurred within weeks of being sacked, which caused me to plunge into a major depression), but I had also been certified UNFIT for all work by my GP, treating orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist and -at the time – one IME psychiatrist. My last surgery was complicated by infection and breakdown… And off I went on 1 crutch, in the sling, depressed and seriously sick to my “vocational”.
The Vocational guy literally clicked a few computer keys and there came out a list of “suitable jobs” for me, as identified on the labour market. Those “suitable jobs” were NOT ever discussed with me. When I received the vocational assessment report, I nearly fainted! One of the “suitable jobs” identified was that I could work for the Minister and do “ministerial briefings”, “as I had considerable experience in the field”, WTF??? I am a trained intensive care nurse, who then retrained somewhat in business management for health care professionals and improvement techniques and I worked my whole life in large public hospitals, so to state that I have experience with “ministerial briefings” is just baffling. Another “suitable job” that came up was that I could work as a “ward clerk”. Now considering that I am not only a specialist nurse who was found never ever to be able to return to nursing again due to the severity of the injury (in 2006 already), but I moved up the ranks and became an executive manager. Consider that the hospital and the workcover insurer sacked me because “I am too impaired” to hold down a desk job, right, how on earth do you want me to work as a ward clerk? Not only would such a role be very demeaning and humiliating to me (consider being a pilot and then be demoted to being a steward) but the duties of a ward clerk in a hospital consist of photocopying, making coffee, filling water jugs, finding and carrying and sorting heaps of heavy patient files, dragged from the basement and pushed in a supermarket trolley and non-stop answering telephone inquiries and simultaneously entering data on a computer/doing computer searches. Remember that I only have 1 non-dominant arm, so tell me, how on earth do you want me to carry out these “duties’, whilst I am deemed too “impaired” to hold down my management role which consists of computer work, coaching, teaching and meetings?
There are several problems with this “computerised job program” used in vocational assessment:
That program was NEVER designed to be used that way; it is just a gimmick used by workcover insurance companies and their so-called “vocational assessors” and rehabbers.
When one gradually unlayers the issues of someone with for example chronic pain, you will come up with a list of 10 to 20 problems; one cannot simply put one problem in and get a realistic account of what one can do. For example, you cannot simply put in “cervical radiculitis” and cover all the problems a person will have. Chronic pain spreads to other areas; in the neck, it is found to spread quite regularly and is called somatic pain, with extra segmental spread, facet and other structure pains. Headaches and occipital neuralgia from tight neck muscles could be factors. Medications for chronic pain, fatigue, lack of sleep, and so forth take their toll.
I do not believe the system of seeing someone for a brief assessment or merely doing a file review will give anywhere near an accurate assessment.
This, in turn, is not giving the injured worker the benefit of the doubt. People with cervical radiculitis will invariably develop a regional myofascial pain syndrome due to somatic spread of pain.
The reason workcover insurer case managers are able to put in “A” diagnosis is because on their forms there is just a place for ONE diagnosis. It is expedient for doctors to put in simple terms like neck strain when actually it is much more complicated. Anyone with sense would know that if someone had not recovered, it was because their case was not as simple as a one diagnosis problem but this common sense seems to escape workcover case managers and rehabbers. As one of my doctors said, “he was totally unaware this abuse was occurring and will never put ONE diagnosis down ever again”. In my case, even catastrophically injured with 45% WPI, my diagnosis remained “bruised shoulder”, can you believe it? (What is your “diagnosis”- it is usually stated on your claim form).
Not only does workcover insurances and their rehabbers/vocational assessors have to suggest occupations, there is a real onus on them to see if it is suitable and viable for an injured worker to do so.
I do not believe that a computer program is at all useful in the multidimensional problems that especially chronic pain involves. The way it is used is just plain criminal.
Vocational assessment (on an injured person with 1 functioning non-dominant arm who has worked an entire career in hospital)
- Working for the Minister ( kid you not!)
- Building and Building maintenance (WTF)
- Ward clerk
But this injured worker (me) got sacked from her hospital management position (desk job) based on impairment! She was found to have 43% WPI with no remunerative work capacity for the future and in the end, won her case. Although my termination was extremely painful at the time, I now thank my employer profusely for sacking me as they proved -on my behalf -that I was unable to even hold down a desk job. This made my common law damages claim for loss of earnings that much easier.
2. After the vocational assessment, the rehabilitation consultant engaged by workcover will start the job-seeking process.
To learn more about the not so ethical practices of workcover rehabilitation service providers head on over to our “learn about the rehabber” page.