Information for physiotherapists about the pain education program and supporting injured workers with persistent and complex pain.
The pain education program is offered by WorkSafe to allow injured workers to improve their treatment and recovery pathways through pain education sessions with Australia Physiotherapy Association (APA) titled pain physiotherapists. This service provides additional support to injured workers who have, or are at risk of, developing complex persistent pain. It is offered in addition to a workers current treatment plan, assisting with their recovery and return to work journey.
WorkSafe offer the pain education program to injured workers through two intake streams. Both options allowing treating health providers, case managers, and clinical panellists to provide workers with a more considered and tailored recovery pathway.
Injured workers can engage in a triage interview with a member of WorkSafe's Clinical Panel who is titled from the APA in both musculoskeletal and pain physiotherapy to discuss pain education. If suitable, injured workers can then be referred to a community APA titled pain physiotherapist who can provide up to six hourly sessions, in addition to their existing treatment.
Injured workers flagged at risk of a delayed recovery and return to work are provided extra supports such as a strategic return to work case conferences with members of WorkSafe's Clinical Panel and agent representatives. WorkSafe’s Clinical Panel will collaborate with a workers existing treaters to discuss their recovery barriers and possible treatment options. Workers may be offered six hourly sessions with a community APA titled pain physiotherapists in addition to their existing treatment.
Pain education program FAQ’s
What are the key components of the sessions?
Pain education sessions start with assessing the injured worker, including history taking, screening and a physical examination. An explanation of contemporary pain neuroscience within a biopsychosocial context is given individually for each injured worker. Skills such as activity pacing will be taught, and practised between sessions, to assist the worker to re-engage in their valued life roles. Pain flares will be explained and plans devised collaboratively for dealing with these flares. Future management options may be discussed along with other areas of concern to the worker. Discussion and collaboration with the injured workers treating team are key.
Are the sessions via telehealth or in person?
The sessions can be completed via telehealth or in person. The program was initially developed to be completed via telehealth to provide regional clients with access to these services, and due to Covid-19 restrictions. We currently have clinicians in metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong and Sydney, with plans to expand this in the future.
What is the WorkSafe Clinical Panel?
The WorkSafe Clinical Panel consists of highly qualified and experienced allied health, mental health, disability and medical professionals who contribute to the broader development and implementation of WorkSafe’s policies and initiatives to improve health service provision and recovery pathways for injured workers. It provides advice, support and guidance to treating health providers in applying the principles of the Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services and Health Benefits of Safe Work when treating injured workers with the focus to facilitate treatment that is clinically reasonable, evidence based and beneficial to an injured workers recovery and return to work.
What is an APA titled pain physiotherapist?
This program can only be delivered by an APA titled pain physiotherapist. APA titled pain physiotherapists are formally recognised by the Australian Physiotherapy Association as having high level skills and experience in identifying and addressing the key barriers to prevention or recovery from persistent pain conditions.
Who are the APA Titled Physiotherapists currently delivering the pain education program?
APA titled pain physiotherapists and qualifications
Martina Egan - Diploma of Physiotherapy, Post Graduate Diploma in Manipulative Therapy, Master of Science Physiotherapy
Stephanie Carroll - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Public Health
Mengsha Chen - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Graduate Certificate of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
Jazmin Cruz - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Science in Medicine (Pain Management)
Meghan Dean - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Science in Medicine (Pain Management)
Nick Economos - Bachelor Applied Science (Physiotherapy)
Mary Exton - Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Graduate Diploma (Manipulative Therapy), Master of Science in Medicine (Pain Management)
Associate Professor Jon Ford - Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Master of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, PhD, Credential MDT (McKenzie Method), Australian College of Physiotherapy Specialisation Program
David Goulding - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy, Graduate Certificate in Pain Management
Brendon Haslam - Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Masters of Neurological Physiotherapy
Nicole Moore - Bachelor Physiotherapy, Master of Public Health (Pain), Level II MBI Teacher (Mindfulness Training Institute Australasia)
Anjelo Ratnachandra - Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours), Graduate Certificate Counselling, Certificate in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Certificate in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy
Kane Rodda - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
Anne Sammells - Bachelor Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Grad Diploma Manipulative Physiotherapy, APA Acupuncture Certificate
Rachael Sheat - Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Master of Physiotherapy
Dr Luke Surkitt - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, PhD, Credential MDT (McKenzie Method)
Leanne Yeung - Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Master of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy
Kirsten Stower - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Master of Science in Medicine (Pain Management)
Matthew Richards - Bachelor of Physiotherapy, PhD Candidate
Please note: these physiotherapists are not employed or contracted to WorkSafe.
Why can't I just provide the pain education to my client?
Providing individualised and easy to understand pain education to injured workers is a distinct skill developed through education, training and peer review. However, not all physiotherapists have these skills or feel comfortable using them. Titled pain physiotherapists are credentialed by the APA and recognised for having these skills. This program highlights the need for greater pain literacy when treating injured workers with complex injuries. Utilising this uniquely skilled group of physiotherapists has significantly contributed to the program’s success. These pain physiotherapists are building greater pain literacy within the broader physiotherapy profession to provide support and mentoring to other clinicians who work tirelessly to support injured workers with complex pain presentations.
I'd like to be involved in the program, what should I do?
If you are an APA titled pain physiotherapist interested in being involved in this program please email: [email protected].
Can I refer injured workers into this program?
No, at this stage you cannot directly refer workers into the program; clients must meet the eligibility criteria. If a Clinical Panellist calls you to discuss one of your clients, please feel free to discuss this program with them and they can inform you if the worker is eligible.
An injured worker has told me they're eligible for the program, is there anyone from WorkSafe Clinical Panel I can discuss this with?
Please email the Clinical Panel on [email protected] including your client’s name and claim number in the subject line. We will direct your query to the appropriate clinical panellist or you can speak directly to the workers claims manager at the relevant agent.
Can I still see my patient if they're referred to the program?
Yes, these sessions are in addition to an injured workers usual treatment. The APA titled pain physiotherapist will work with you to provide a collaborative approach and discuss the management of an injured workers recovery.
Your feedback is important
This project aims to add value to the management of injured workers and your questions and feedback are welcome at any time by emailing: [email protected]