As a Return to Work Coordinator, it’s your responsibility to ensure a smooth transition for both the injured employee and the rest of the team involved in the case.

Case conferences are a handy tool to make sure everyone is on the same page and that progress is steadily being made.

It can be tricky to know how to approach the situation so it’s important to be prepared, says EML Mutual Benefits Partnership Manager Kirsty Smith.

“Think like a scout and be prepared,” says Ms Smith. “Obtain updates from all stakeholders, chat to your employee to build rapport and trust with them and discuss the goals of the case conference.”

Unlike a birthday, a Case Conference is not an event where you want surprises – to avoid confusion and discomfort throughout, there are a few steps you should follow:

  • confirm the medical details (diagnosis, treatment and recovery timeframes)
  • discuss any barriers to RTW, available suitable duties, required restrictions or modifications and gather the relevant evidence for this
  • manage the expectations of the treater and the employee
  • review and revise the RTW plan and obtain sign-off

“It’s important to be aware of your language and presence during the conference,” says Ms Smith who suggests the following tips for a positive outcome:

  • actively listen to what is being communicated
  • allow others to speak openly and honestly
  • involve family members in the discussion where possible
  • focus on the positive – develop solutions, small daily steps to improve

Once the case conference has wrapped up, have a quick debrief with your employee to ensure they’re okay and that they understand the agreed outcomes.

“Workplace injuries have a direct impact on your employee’s lives so make sure you remain respectful, personable and supportive throughout the process,” says Ms Smith.

“Document the agreements made and update the RTW plans.

“Then, pat yourself on the back – progress is being made!”