Stand up for a new long-term role

Physiotherapists should seize opportunities to become case managers in caring for people with long-term conditions, says the CSP.

The Society says a new competences framework, outlining the skills required for these roles, clearly puts the posts within reach of physios and other allied health professionals. The framework, drawn up by the standards-setting body Skills for Health, was published at the end of August by the Department of Health. It describes the competences associated with case management which can be used by employers to prepare job descriptions and person specifications for recruitment. A case manager will work as part of an integrated team to develop personal care plans for people with complex conditions. A key requirement of the job will be to 'proactively' monitor the changing needs of patients and coordinate their care across all parts of the health and social care system. The role is most likely to suit an AHP, qualified nurse or social worker, according to the new framework. The document draws together the range of knowledge, skills and performance that are associated with case management in the long-term conditions field. The competences are grouped together in practice areas known as 'domains'. These cover areas such as identifying high-risk people, supporting self-care, managing care at the end of life and interagency and partnership working. Stand-alone role CSP professional adviser L?onie Dawson said the framework would help physiotherapists to raise their profile and make a contribution at a 'higher level' in long-term conditions care. She told Frontline: 'Many physiotherapists will already be working as case managers within their day to day jobs. This document identifies that a case manager is a stand-alone role that physiotherapists can fill.' The competences are intended to fit with Agenda for Change and the knowledge and skills framework. Ms Dawson urged colleagues to study the document. 'They should identify with their managers the support required to complete competences and to persuade commissioners to create those roles within their trust.' Community matrons The new framework also spells out the distinct competences required by community matrons, making it clear these roles are earmarked for nurses. Community matrons will plan and coordinate care for the most vulnerable people with multiple health needs who require advanced clinical nursing care as well as case management. Both community matrons and case manager roles will carry 'significant' leadership responsibility. Leonie Dawson said there was now a 'clear message' that the government's target of recruiting 3,000 community matrons by 2007 could include 'other professionals' as case managers, as long as trusts 'clearly justify the reason for the non-nursing choice'. CSP chief executive Phil Gray told Frontline: 'Trusts recruiting case managers and community matrons need to involve a range of experts in order to ensure the right people with the broad knowledge base and extensive skill set are leading the care of patients with a wide range of problems.' Meanwhile, Salford primary care trust has recruited a second physiotherapist as a community matron. Jane Whitby's appointment follows that of Liz Reilly (see Frontline, May 18). - matthew limb Case management competences framework for the care of people with long-term conditions: Case management competences and the roles of community matrons are explored in the new Frontline supplement on managing long-term conditions ('Blurring Boundaries', page 9) See also our feature on page 15 of this issue to read why the CSP believes the competences framework heralds a new chapter of progress for physiotherapists working in the community
Matthew Limb

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