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A Physiotherapists role in return to work

GuidebookHealth professionals play an important role in an injured workers recovery and return to work.

Evidence shows that work is good for health and wellbeing and long term work absence has a negative impact on physical and mental health. Returning to safe work is an important part of rehabilitation.

Early intervention is important. Support your patients to safely stay at or return to work to minimise the social, emotional and financial impacts that an injury can have on their life and to improve their chance of recovery.

Patients don't need to be 100% recovered to stay at, or return to, safe work and are more than three times as likely to return to work soon after injury if their GP gives them a return to work date.

Support your patients back to safe work

Download the guide for Physiotherapists

This guide contains summary information for use by Physiotherapists. It should be interpreted within the context of legislative requirements and WorkSafe policies for health providers treating injured workers.


The Claims Process

The claims process

The longer someone is off work, the less likely they are to ever return.


Why is early return to good work so important?

GuidebookHealth professionals play an important role in an injured workers recovery and return to work.

There is compelling evidence that work is generally good for health and wellbeing.

The Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work, highlights compelling international and Australasian evidence of the health benefits of safe work. It also brings together a wide range of stakeholder signatories, including WorkSafe, who recognise the importance of work as a determinant of a person's health.

The longer your patient is away from work, the less likely they are to return to work. There is a 23% chance of an injured worker still being off work at 2 years if not back by 13 weeks. By six months, there is a 39% of still being of work at 2 years.

The graph below shows the percentage chance of being off work at two years if worker is away from work.

Percentage chance of being off work

Percentage chance of being off work at two years if worker is away from work at 4, 13, 26,52 and 78 weeks (WorkSafe Data, September 2016).


Physiotherapists can support patients to stay at or return to work

The best way to support your patient to stay at, or return to, work is to keep everyone talking – the patient, the employer, the occupational rehabilitation (OR) provider and the Insurance Agent.

There are a number of ways you can assist your patient to do this:

Certify Appropriately

Certify Appropriately
Certify based on functional capability. The employer will identify and plan safe return to work options.

Communicate

Communicate
Talk to your patient about what they can do. Communicate with the treating GP, employer and Insurance Agent to discuss the patients functional capacity.

Address Return to Work (RTW) Barriers

Address Return to Work (RTW) Barriers
The RTW flowchart can help you identify and manage barriers. You can access the RTW flowchart training presentation at www.cpd4physios.com.au.

Set Expectations

Set Expectations
Set expectations that RTW is beneficial to your patient's recovery.

Occupational Rehabilitation Providers

Occupational Rehabilitation Providers
Specialise in planning and implementing RTW arrangements. Contact the Insurance Agent to suggest engaging an Occupational Rehabilitation provider.

Worksite Assessments

Worksite Assessments
Visit the workplace to determine if there are suitable duties available for your patient. Speak to the employer or the Insurance Agent about coordinating a Worksite Assessment.

Employer Obligations

Employer Obligations
WorkSafe's Return to Work Inspectors ensure that employers comply with their obligations to help injured workers return to work. If you feel the employer is not assisting your patient contact WorkSafe's Advisory Service (1800 136 089).

Worker Obligations

Worker Obligations
Injured worker must make efforts to participate in planning for their return to work suitable employment.


Treatment and Services for injured workers

WorkSafe can pay the reasonable costs of medical and allied health services that are:

  • to treat a work-related injury or illness for which a claim has been made and accepted
  • payable under the legislation including approved by WorkSafe where required
  • necessary and appropriate for the worker's injury or illness
  • delivered by a service provider registered with WorkSafe and, where appropriate, registered under the Health Professions Registration Act 2005 or approved by WorkSafe.

Some treatment and services may need prior approval from the Insurance Agent before commencement.

More information about treatment and services including what can be accessed without requests.


Certificate of Capacity

Why is it required?

  • To document capacity and communicate with the employer and Agent about what your patient can do.
  • To enable your patient to access income payments.

Physiotherapists can write certificates

Physiotherapists can write certificates

How do I complete it?

  • Talk to your patient about the health benefits of working and how they can safely stay at, or return to, work.
  • Diagnosis should identify injury and include bodily location.
  • Complete the certificate based on what your patient can do.
  • Provide a timeline for recovery and return to work.
  • By the fifth treatment physiotherapists are required to complete the Physiotherapy Management Plan (PMP).

The more information you provide on the certificate of capacity helps employers to plan and identify safe return to work options for your patient.

To find out where to access the certificate of capacity and how to complete it visit - certificate of capacity


Return to Work and the 5 Clinical Framework Principles

When deciding whether a healthcare service is reasonable and required as a result of a work-related injury or illness, WorkSafe Agents expect that any treatment provided to injured workers be in line with the principles of WorkSafe's Clinical Framework.

WorkSafe's Clinical Framework provides healthcare providers with a set of consistent guiding principles to assist them in delivering health services to injured workers.

The five Clinical Framework Principles can assist you in supporting your patient to Return To Work (RTW).

  1. Measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment
    Utilise standardised, functional and customised outcome measures. RTW can demonstrate functional change over time. Eg., RTW in any capacity after being off work and increasing lifting capacity from 5 to 10kg.
  2. Adopt a biopsychosocial approach
    Facilitate an early, safe and durable RTW to assist your patient physically, psychologically and socially i.e., biopsychosocially.
  3. Empower the injured person to manage their injury
    Educate your patient about the health benefits of work, set expectations that RTW is beneficial. Assist your patient to understand their certified restrictions and work with duties that match their certified capacity.
  4. Implement goals focused on optimising function, participation and RTW
    Develop SMART goals focused on RTW and function. Review and upgrade treatment goals as your patient progresses.
  5. Base treatment on the best research evidence available
    Offer evidence based treatment to optimise your patients functional and RTW outcomes. Evidence indicates that work is good for health and wellbeing and that unnecessary and prolonged time off work is harmful.

Clinical Resources - The five Clinical Framework Principles


WorkSafe Webinar Modules

The following training presentations can be viewed on the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) website

Presentations include but not limited to:

  • Low back pain
  • Completing the certificate
  • Certifying no capacity for employment
  • Identifying and managing RTW barriers
  • RTW as treatment
  • and the Clinical Framework

This guide contains summary information for use by Physiotherapists. It should be interpreted within the context of legislative requirements and WorkSafe policies for health providers treating injured workers.


Who can I contact?

WorkSafe Advisory Service

For general information and advice about:

  • WorkSafe insurance scheme
  • Worksafe policy issues
  • WorkSafe RTW inspectors

Phone: 1800 136 089

Insurance Agents and Case Managers

WorkSafe has five authorised Insurance Agents to manage claims. A Case Manager is the primary contact and can assist with:

  • claim management
  • treatment requests
  • return to work planning

Allianz: 1800 240 335
CGU: 1800 066 204
Gallagher Bassett: 1800 774 377
EML: 1800 365 842
Xchanging: 1800 801 070

Physio Support

For enquires about:

  • general treatment and support
  • clinical advice from the WorkSafe Clinical Panel
  • resolving provider issues or concerns

Phone: (03) 9940 4400
Email: provider@worksafe.vic.gov.au