Case management for recovery and return to work

There's a close link between injured worker perceptions of their case manager and return to work outcomes. The resources on this page explain evidence-based case management practices, covering emotional labour, time management, common pitfalls, positive communication and other effective strategies.

Shoulder and elbow pain: which treatments work?

contributorAnna Kelsey-Sugg

The evidence for and against some of the most common treatments for shoulder and elbow pain.

Top ten tips to keep you on track when managing a stress claim.

contributorAnna Kelsey-Sugg

To help an employee return to work after a stress claim, our ten tips start with proactivity and...

Returning to work? Ten tips to help you survive the system!

contributorGabrielle Lis

Getting back to work after illness or injury can be daunting. Stick to our top ten, however, and...

Who gets involved in modifying duties - and how?

contributorAnna Kelsey-Sugg

Who has control over organising modified duties in your workplace - and what are the pros and...

What do RTW Professionals need to know about CBT?

contributorGabrielle Lis

The basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and how it can be used to resolve difficult RTW cases.

Motivational mojo medicine

contributorGabrielle Lis

RTW motivation can be hard to muster...Unless you've had your dose of the RTWMatters...

Communicating with "The System"

contributorRosemary McKenzie-Ferguson and Gabrielle Lis

Workers struggle to listen and be heard. How does this affect them?

Want to be a back pain superhero?

contributorGabrielle Lis

This comprehensive guide to helping workers with back pain will have you donning lycra in no time...

Anxiety Q&A 3: Working with anxiety

contributorGabrielle Lis

This final instalment provides tips for helping anxious employees maintain their cool and remain...

Recovery from spinal surgery

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Spine surgeons who've had spinal surgery provide the know-how for this briefing paper on...

Quick guide: Avoiding litigation

contributorGabrielle Lis

Don't send yourself--or your worker--to the dogs! Fair in-house systems can keep claims out of...

Doctor, doctor give 'em the news

contributorTom Barton

We consider why doctors fail to communicate well about return to work, and offer strategies for...

Common causes of workplace pain

contributorAnna Kelsey-Sugg

Understanding musculoskeletal pain will increase productivity and health.

Employees not coping with pain

contributorTom Barton

Understanding how distress interferes with recovery is the key to addressing difficult RTW cases.

Are workplace activities harmful?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Despite growing perceptions that workplace activities cause and complicate injuries, the...

What is process related injury?

contributorGabrielle Lis

Sometimes compensation systems, not injury, deliver the knock out blow. Don't let that happen to...

Separating stress and chronic pain

contributorTom Barton

Stress makes chronic pain worse, and worsens RTW outcomes. Here are 10 ideas to help alleviate...

The patient's mouth

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Getting the information you need to facilitate RTW shouldn't be as painful as pulling teeth -...

Styles of communication

contributorGabrielle Lis

Passive. Aggressive. Assertive. How does your professional communication style affect your...

Asking assertively

contributorGabrielle Lis

Know what you want from people at work, but not how to get it? Learn how to talk the talk, and...

Teaching WorkCover claimants to sell themselves

contributorElizabeth Quinn

In pain, low in confidence, and down at heart: it can be a hard slog to get back into the...

Frustrated by "victims"?

contributorGabrielle Lis and Dr Mary Wyatt

People who believe they've been treated unfairly have lower functional ability than those who...

Webinar: Back Pain and Return to Work

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Back pain accounts for a large proportion of injury claims, and a higher proportion of long term...

Active listening eTool

contributorScott Sanderson and Gabrielle Lis

Don't just hear the words, listen to them. These five steps to becoming an active listener will...

Surgery support

contributorDr Mary Wyatt and Tom Barton

Make a big difference by assisting employees who've decided on surgery

Discussing surgery

contributorDr Mary Wyatt and Tom Barton

Help workers understand the options and outcomes

8 steps for tackling long-term cases - Part 1

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Picking up a long-term case for the first time can seem daunting. Here are a series of steps to...

8 steps for tackling long-term cases - Part 2

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Picking up a long-term case for the first time can seem daunting. Here are a series of steps to...

RTW success sounds like this

contributorAnna Kelsey-Sugg

Have a look at this letter from an employee of one workplace doing fantastic things for injured...

The ABC of CBT: Part One

contributorGabrielle Lis

In which we - and injured worker Ms W - learn that 'C' is for 'Cognitive,' and that thoughts...

The ABC of CBT: Part Two

contributorGabrielle Lis

In which we - and injured worker Ms W - learn that when you change your behaviour, you also...

The ABC of CBT: Part Three

contributorGabrielle Lis

In which we ask: Who would benefit from CBT? How can you broach the subject of therapy in the...

Learning from the Vet

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Getting in touch with connectedness

Stress and emotional resilience

contributorGabrielle Lis and Tom Barton

Ever wondered what RTW and sabre-toothed tigers have in common? Or why some people bounce back...

Leading the pack or dragging it down?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

When one part of the system underperforms, the others follow suit.

Decisions about surgery: The rock and the hard place

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Successful surgery starts with the best decision about whether surgery should be performed.

Recorded Webinar: Managing Psychological Claims in the Workplace

contributorKaye Frankcom

Psychological or mental health claims are a fast growing liability for most compensation...

Recorded webinar: The medical assessment of work capacity

contributorDr Andrea James

This webinar explores how doctors determine a person's work capacity.

Recorded Webinar: Communicating with Doctors - GPs and Specialists

contributorDr Phillip Meyerkort

This webinar explores how RTW Coordinators and Claims Managers can communicate effectively with...

Broken trust cripples the compensation system

contributorDr Mary Wyatt and Stefanie Garber

Workers' compensation is plagued by low trust levels - increasing goodwill in the system could...

Do me a favour, fix return to work

contributorDr Mary Wyatt and Stefanie Garber

People respond to positive acts with positive deeds of their own. Increased positive experiences...

Chondromalacia - now what is that?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Information on knee cartilage disorders, their treatments and a case study.

An introduction to workplace bullying

contributorStefanie Garber

What is workplace bullying? How common is bullying? What forms does bullying take? How does...

Fighting back: dealing with workplace bullies

contributorStefanie Garber

Taking a long-term preventative approach to bullying is cheaper and more effective than reacting...

Guidelines on shoulder rotator cuff problems

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Flow charts detailing shoulder pain treatment

Using telephonic case management for assessment and triage

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Telephonic methods can be used to assess the clinical and work participation needs of people...

eLearning: Musculoskeletal troubles

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Understanding the difficulties everyone faces with musculoskeletal problems can help you help...

Dealing with the victim mentality

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

In response to a reader's questions, our resident Occ Phys explains how to encourage a proactive...

Patient advocacy and workers' comp

contributorGabrielle Lis

Workers' comp cases present GPs and other health professionals with opportunities for meaningful...

Recorded Webinar: Physiotherapy - how to get the best

contributorPaul Coburn

Occupational physiotherapy expert Paul Coburn explains the principles of good physiotherapy and...

The art of influence in return to work

contributorCarolyn Mounce

Are the latest sales and marketing techniques an untapped resource in return to work?

Influence: Steps to instantly connect with the claimant

contributorCarolyn Mounce

Building immediate rapport in return to work can turn adversary into ally.

Psychological claims: Part 3

contributorRobert Aurbach

The history is not just a formality

Psychological claims: Part 4

contributorRobert Aurbach

Getting ready for psychological claims - change the story

Influence: The gentle art of disagreeing

contributorCarolyn Mounce

Real influence is when you build from agreement, not from conflict; to align and lead rather...

Making the most of a referral for pain management

contributorBronnie Thompson

What does it mean and how to make the most of it.

Case Study: Exploring other job options

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

This case study explores the importance of providing options for the injured worker's return to...

Case Study: It pays to do the right thing, even when dubious about a claim

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Michael was a 48-year-old machine operator. He had been at the workplace for nine months. During...

Claims Process: the stress of making a claim

contributorA. Richey

When a worker is injured, there might be fears for their job stability, financial burdens, or...

Webinar recording: Independent Medical Examiners: Assessing capacity for work

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Dr Mary Wyatt explores the role of the IME in assessing work capacity for injured or ill employees.

Prehabilitation: improving the results of surgery

contributorA. Richey

Prehabilitation is an approach to aid people recover from surgery and increase the likelihood of...

Webinar recording: Physiotherapists and return to work

contributorRoss Iles & Paul Coburn

This panel discussion explores physiotherapy strategic approaches to improve return to work and...

Workers fear lodging claims for psych injury

contributorGabrielle Lis

Lodging a psycological injury claim in Australia is a scary business, and the scarier it is...

Webinar recording: Manage your mindset

contributorMark Stipic

3 key principles of communication you can start using immediately to speed up your RTW outcomes

Webinar recording: Supervisors and co-workers, vital but often overlooked links in RTW

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

This webinar explores evidence on how supervisors and coworkers can influence RTW, and how to...

New insurer approach reduces delays in decisions about healthcare

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Delays and disputes are stressful and can have a negative impact on recovery and return to work....

Webinar recording: Work-related psychological health and safety matters.

contributorPeta Miller

Meeting your duties under the work health and safety laws.

Rotator cuff troubles - video presentation

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Shoulder problems are the second most common work-related musculoskeletal problem. Here's an...

Jokes, bullying and RTW

contributorLara Forth

Lara felt bullied by her case manager and colleagues when she returned to work - even when they...

Functional Capacity Evaluations: the pitfalls.

contributorBronnie Thompson

Sometimes a person's capacities exceed their own sense of what they can safely do. What is the...

Injustice in return to work: part 1

contributorStefanie Garber

Workers' compensation systems can leave clients feeling betrayed. This sense of unfairness may...

Learned helplessness in RTW

contributorA. Richey

'Learned helplessness' is the idea that some people who experience repeated setbacks will...

You say it best when you say nothing at all: Effective listening

contributorScott Sanderson

Have you ever been told you are a poor listener? Maybe you have, but you weren't paying...

Want better answers? Ask better questions

contributorCarolyn Mounce

Well-chosen questions can give injured workers - and frustrated RTW professionals - renewed...

RTW conflict Q & A

contributorRTWMatters team

Unresolved workplace conflict can prevent RTW, so RTW professionals need to know how to...

RTW and the workplace: Reciprocity rules

contributorMary Wyatt, using a Safe Work Australia report

Results from the national Return to Work Survey show the strength and consistency of workplace...

Reader Feedback: Tips on getting the most out of Return to Work Matters

contributorCheryl Griffiths

Our recent survey responses highlighted the number of ways that RTW Matters content is being...

Influence: Stop talking! Four keys to listening

contributorCarolyn Mounce

To be heard is a powerful experience, and for your claimant it will make them feel safer, more...

The terrible two: UNDER-use and OVER-care

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Ever wondered why some musculoskeletal injuries don't resolve as quickly as they should?

Decision-making justice Part 1.

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

A good decision making process is worth its weight in platinum, making this a key read for...

Decision-making justice: Part two

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Another must read for claims / case managers: how you cannot afford to get it wrong, and how you...

What injured workers want

contributorGabrielle Lis

The bad news: according to workers, positive interactions with insurers are few and far between....

Decision-making justice: Part three

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

What works and what does not work in the decision making process. A must read for claims / case...

Consequences of bad juju between workers and insurers

contributorGabrielle Lis

When interactions with insurers are negative, workers’ compensation claimants describe serious...

Top five insurer fails: Injured workers talk

contributorGabrielle Lis

In workers’ compensation systems across the world, injured workers describe predominantly...

The jewels of case management

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Trust, efficiency, senior management involvement and the all-important connection between the...

Top ten tips for dealing with the Doc

contributorGabrielle Lis and Dr Mary Wyatt

Is "bad medicine" delaying RTW at your organisation? This top ten will help sweeten your...

Toxic Doctors

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

What do you do with a toxic doctor?

Ten tips for communicating with doctors

contributorTom Barton

Dr Robyn Horsley gives us ten tips for great communication with the treating doctor.

How-to guide: Calling psychological injury claimants

contributorGabrielle Lis

Delaying contact with workers who’ve claimed for psychological injury can delay return to work....

Putting a price on trust

contributorStefanie Garber

Building social capital costs little but the potential benefits are priceless.

Trouble communicating? Stop talking: Listen!

contributorGabrielle Lis

A quick guide to the advantages and basic techniques of active listening.

Injustice in return to work: part 2

contributorStefanie Garber

A sense of unfairness may lead to worse health outcomes for injured workers.

Compensation: More painful than surgery?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

There is a correlation between compensation and poorer surgical outcomes. What can be done?

How do doctors assess a person's ability to work?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Medical assessments of work capacity are not always defined by what a worker is capable of....

Webinar recording: Best practice independent medical assessments

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

This webinar expands on the previous presentation on independent medical assessment basics.

8 tips for a great relationship - working with the claims manager

contributorTom Barton

We respond to a Return to Work Coordinator's query about resolving problems between employers...

Webinar Recording: Optimising outcomes for workers with back pain through enhanced self-management and collaboration

contributorDr Jon Ford

Listen to musculoskeletal physiotherapist, Dr. Jon Ford, talk about how practitioners can help...

Comparing the data: physical and psychological claims

contributorGabrielle Lis

Dr Wyatt dug into the data on the outcomes and experiences of Australian workers who lodge...

Just how painful is injury reporting?

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Knowing when injury reports should be made and how they should be dealt with can reduce the pain...

Cartilage tears

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

Knee cartilage tears explained

Carpal tunnel: The nerve of it!

contributorDr Mary Wyatt

An introduction to the physiology, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome.