The Rehabilitation Award - Reach Personal Injury Services

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Reach Personal Injury Services' work with home-based rehabilitation for severe traumatic brain injury for both adults and children is a worthy winner of this award, reports Anthony Gould

Reaching out

Rehabilitation in the insurance sector continues to move forward, with the industry more willing than ever to explore better ways of providing commercially viable - and, therefore, cost-effective - rehabilitation to first and third-party claimants. One of the reasons uptake across the sector has been slower during the past few years than might have been hoped (despite strong evidence of improved outcomes for claimants in many cases), is the lack of solid data and statistics on exactly how financially viable rehabilitation services are.

The winner of this year's Rehabilitation Award has provided home-based rehabilitation for severe traumatic brain injury for both adults and children for the past 13 years, in connection with catastrophic personal injury claims. During the past year, Reach Personal Injury Services carried out a cost-benefit analysis of its service to establish quantitatively just how effective its service is for insurers, claimant solicitors and clients alike. The analysis also provided a baseline from which the company could further progress its rehabilitation approach to severe brain-injury clients.

Although the number of severe brain injury patients is not high, the individual cases are very costly. In terms of adults, Reach reviewed its most recent 29 severe traumatic brain injury clients at the end of rehabilitation - typically equating to just under 11 months of rehabilitation at 10 hours per week with the outcome for care needs and return to work.

Basic saving per client

The average basic saving per client per year was worked out at nearly £17,000. Post-rehabilitation, 20.6% had returned to full-time work and 75.8% had resumed part-time work or education. Added to these findings, while Reach's results apply to the situation immediately after rehabilitation, a considerable body of research indicates that significant improvements due to rehabilitation are retained over time, and even progress without further external input.

Reach also looked at children, who are more seriously affected by severe traumatic brain injury than adults, and projected that costs to insurers were more onerous. The developing brain is more vulnerable to injury than the fully developed one. Rehabilitation is even more necessary, and more difficult, hence the need for specialist neuro-paediatric rehabilitation skills, which Reach has on its worldwide roster.

The company reviewed the status of the last 10 completed child clients - all under nine years of age - at the end of rehabilitation (typically 11 months at 10 hours per week). Before rehabilitation, all children required considerable and constant help with the most basic daily living skills, such as dressing, feeding and hygiene. After rehabilitation, an average of four to five hours a day of such activities was self-directed with minimal supervision required. The children were also significantly more self-reliant on age-appropriate talks, including school work, homework, play and general behaviour. The company's study, while still not fully complete, shows promising results already.

Reach's approach is one to one, practising rehabilitation strategies in realistic settings - home, school, leisure and work - liaising and working with claimant and defendant lawyers, insurers, families, employers and teachers, setting realistic targets and monitoring progress.

The service is not cheap, of course - working out at an average of approximately £50,000 per case - but the costs of not providing such rehabilitation are significantly higher. Settlements for most cases of this ilk run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, and a typical adult case shows a care-cost reduction of about a half and, more importantly, a better-than-50% chance of returning to some form of productive work.

For insurers - and the UK as a whole - this latter point also relates to a consequent marked reduction in loss of earnings. Potential savings with children are even greater, as the accident occurs earlier in the lifespan, with even more years of high dependency and no earnings ahead.

Rehab watchwords

Of course, not all cases of severe traumatic brain injury are suitable for rehabilitation, perhaps where there is a pre-injury history of psychosis or major drug addiction. However, in all cases, the overriding watchwords have to be rehabilitation first - or as early as possible.

Reach is a leader in its field and has worked to address the financial considerations that insurers as commercial organisations have to take onboard. It has worked hard to put together the evidence that rehabilitation pays for itself within two years, because of the savings due to reduced care costs and return to work - added to which, of course, savings also continue to accrue for the lifetime of the victim. The judges said Reach does a fantastic job, and has done for many years, and is a worth winner of this year's Rehabilitation Award.

FINALISTS 2007
- Corpore
- Human Focus Return to Work, Part of the Parabis Group
- Moving Minds
- Reach Personal Injury Services

WINNING WORDS

Heather Batey was delighted that her small company was recognised - and reveals her plans for Reach to win the Rehabilitation award again in 2008.

With Sibelius' Finlandia being played out in the background, Heather Batey, director of Reach, proudly walked up to the stage to collect the highly coveted Rehabilitation Award for 2007, much to the delight of the crowd sitting at her table in one of the boxes at the Royal Albert Hall.

Clearly delighted at Reach having won, she held the British Insurance Award aloft while she posed for photographs with the sponsor, Ian Sparks from First Assist. She later said: "It is absolutely fantastic that such a small company has received this recognition." Honoured to receive the award, Ms Batey said that winning was amazing and that, looking ahead, in order to ensure that Reach held on to it next year at the 2008 awards, the firm would be looking at further enhancements to what it already does in the market.

This includes providing hands-on care, working with a variety of people affected by illness, including the families who are often going through a difficult time, as well as injured themselves. Now, in addition, it will also seek to go one step further and add to its remit the idea of "educating the industry on the importance" of what it sets out to achieve.

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