Counselling services policy

Guidelines for providing counselling services to injured workers.

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Background

Counsellors are skilled healthcare professionals who provide psychological interventions that support a worker's journey through rehabilitation, recovery and return to work. Counsellors work in a variety of settings and may have different areas of interest which can be matched to the worker's needs.

This policy outlines guidelines for the provision of counselling services under the Victorian workers compensation scheme.

Guidelines

What WorkSafe will pay for

WorkSafe can pay the reasonable costs of counselling services for up to 12 hours or six months when meeting all of the following criteria:

  • treatment is for:
    • a work-related injury or illness, where the workers' compensation claim has been accepted, or
    • a mental injury or illness where a worker* is entitled to provisional payments
  • the provider is currently registered with WorkSafe as a counsellor
  • a medical practitioner has provided a referral for initial treatment
  • a medical practitioner reviews the service regularly
    • note that services remain subject to regular review of the injured worker's progress by a medical practitioner
  • the service is in line with the principles of the Clinical Framework

All references to injured workers on this page may also apply to workers entitled to provisional payments.

*Eligible Victorian volunteers are also entitled to provisional payments.

WorkSafe can pay for counselling services delivered via telehealth in accordance with the policy and fee schedule for telehealth services.

What WorkSafe will not pay for

  • any service delivered by a counsellor not registered with WorkSafe
  • any service provided to a person other than the worker
  • any service/s provided that is not aligned with this policy
  • appointments where the worker cancels or does not attend (unless under exceptional circumstances with approval of the WorkSafe agent)
  • more than one counselling consultation provided on the same day to the same worker
  • concurrent treatment by a counsellor and either a psychologist or mental health social worker
  • family counselling services provided by a counsellor

Who can provide counselling services to injured workers

WorkSafe can only pay for counselling services provided by registered counsellors. To be registered by WorkSafe, counsellors must meet the following requirements:

  1. hold a Bachelor or Masters qualification in Counselling, and
  2. hold a level 3 or 4 membership with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA)
    OR
    hold full clinical membership with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)

Counsellors must register with WorkSafe to provide services to injured workers. WorkSafe will review all registration documentation and confirm registration via email.

Registration to provide counselling services to injured workers will be valid for three years from the registration date. The counsellor must provide evidence of current ACA Level 3 or 4 or PACFA Clinical membership to continue their registration every three years.

Quality management

Counsellors must retain the level of membership with the peak body as outlined in this policy to provide counselling services to injured workers and invoice at the counselling fee schedule rates. If the counsellor no longer meets the policy registration requirements, they must notify WorkSafe by email at [email protected]

The counsellor must take part in quality improvement and performance management processes as directed by WorkSafe.

Service standards

Referral requirements

WorkSafe considers counselling to be a referred service. A medical practitioner must provide a referral before commencement of treatment. Prior approval from WorkSafe is not required for counselling services.

WorkSafe does not allow counsellors to provide referrals to other services.

Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services

WorkSafe expects counsellors to integrate the principles of the Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services (The Clinical Framework) when providing services to injured workers.

The Clinical Framework is based on the following principles:

  1. measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment
  2. adopt a biopsychosocial approach
  3. empower the person to manage their injury
  4. implement goals focused on optimising function, participation and return to work
  5. base treatment on best available research evidence

Communication

WorkSafe requires counselling services to be outcome focused in order to facilitate return to work and return to health for injured workers. Counsellors must agree to provide information on injured worker outcomes.

The services must:

  1. achieve optimal clinical, functional and vocational outcomes for injured workers
  2. be provided in line with the Clinical Framework and in a timely manner having regard to the best interests of injured workers
  3. be provided in consultation and collaboration with other treating healthcare practitioners, community and support services and vocational service providers involved in the management and treatment of injured workers
  4. be provided in accordance with reasonable directions and instructions provided by WorkSafe or the WorkSafe agent

To help achieve optimal recovery and return to work outcomes the counsellor is expected to communicate with the injured worker's treating team, including the referring medical practitioner, the employer and the WorkSafe agent to discuss the proposed treatment plan and how this plan will promote recovery.

Open communication between the treating team can help clearly communicate the injured worker’s capacity, any barriers affecting their recovery and the goals developed in conjunction with the injured worker. Return to work case conferences with the treating team can be coordinated by the WorkSafe agent and will be remunerated as outlined in the fee schedule.

Review of service provision

Counsellors providing services to an injured worker for greater than six months may be contacted by an agent mental injury specialist or WorkSafe's Clinical Panel to discuss the injured workers’ circumstances. A review aims to ensure ongoing services are appropriate and to offer assistance with a referral pathway to an alternative provider if required.

If the counsellor identifies the injured worker requires mental health support beyond the scope of counselling or the individual counsellor, it is expected this is communicated to the referring medical practitioner and WorkSafe agent to facilitate a referral to the appropriate service provider.

Reporting requirements

Upon completion of an initial assessment, the provider must submit a Treatment update/summary report to WorkSafe to continue providing services to the injured worker.

The counsellor must then provide an update after each block of 10 hours of counselling services to demonstrate the ongoing need and suitability of counselling services.

There is no separate fee payable for the Treatment update/summary form as this has been incorporated into the fee schedule.

The treatment update/summary form should include:

  • summary of presenting injury
  • outcome measures
  • the clinical reasoning for ongoing service delivery
  • expected outcomes/goals for ongoing treatment
  • likely number of sessions/duration of treatment still required
  • level of consultation with the referring medical practitioner and treating team

The agent will review treatment updates provided by the counsellor to ensure the service provided adheres to these service standards. This review will be completed in conjunction with agent medical advisors or the WorkSafe Clinical Panel. The WorkSafe Clinical Panel may contact the counsellor for a peer to peer conversation in regards to individual cases. The counsellor agrees to engage with the WorkSafe Clinical Panel for peer to peer conversations.

Suspended from providing services to WorkSafe clients

Failure to comply with this policy and service standards may result in WorkSafe revoking approval of an individual service provider.

If WorkSafe provides notice to a provider advising of a suspension of providing services to WorkSafe clients, WorkSafe will notify their professional body of the suspension and the grounds on which the suspension has been issued.

Invoice requirements

All services must be invoiced according to WorkSafe's invoicing guidelines. It is recommended invoices are submitted on a regular basis to the relevant agent.

Concerns about unpaid or returned invoices should be directed to the agent case manager. Unresolved queries can be escalated by submitting an online complaint.

Questions about policies or fees?

If you have any questions about policies and fee schedules, you can email us and we'll respond to you as soon as possible.

[email protected]