Introducing Jane Symonds, HCML Specialist Rehabilitation Case Manager
We are pleased to introduce Jane Symonds, a Specialist Rehabilitation Case Manager at HCML. Jane qualified as a physiotherapist in 2004 and has gained extensive experience in acute, outpatient and community clinical settings, with a particular interest in spinal cord injury research. Keep reading to find out more about Jane’s skills and experiences as a case manager:
Why the change from specialist physiotherapy to case management?
I had seen the difference that it can make for individuals who have the benefit of being case managed, having that individual support meant that people seemed to get better outcomes after their injuries. I had also worked hands on as a physiotherapist for over 20 years and wanted to learn more about the areas of rehabilitation that I wasn’t previously involved with as a physiotherapist.
You specialise in several areas including spinal cord injury and neurological trauma; how do you apply your expertise from a physiotherapist perspective to case management?
Having a good understanding and practical experience of neurological conditions has been a real advantage to me as I have seen first-hand what degree of recovery is possible and what barriers may arise. Working with the families of clients throughout their rehabilitation too has given me a better understanding of the more holistic issues that are important to our clients.
What type of symptoms would you expect to see as a result of neurological trauma, and how do you approach these types of cases?
Paralysis – which can obviously be terrifying and a real shock to the individual. Supporting individuals as they come to terms with their injury and providing the right information at the right time is key to helping the individual to be able to move forwards when they are ready.
Neuropathic pain – this can be severe and hugely impact an individual’s quality of life. Addressing this is key to minimising psychological secondary complications such as low mood, fear of moving and reduced motivation.
Is there a particular case throughout your career that has really made an impact on you and why?
I worked with a lady with an incomplete paraplegia from the day after she left hospital. She had two young children and I worked with her for two years. This lady set herself goals and was always motivated to work towards them. Gradually, she moved back into her upstairs bedroom and out of a hospital bed, built up enough core strength to be able to manage to cook by herself, got back to driving so that she could collect her children from school, started walking again with a frame and finally developed the confidence to go on her first holiday abroad since becoming paralysed. Seeing the difference that each small gain made to her was very rewarding.
You’ll be used to dealing with extremely personal and difficult situations working with clients with neurological and complex orthopaedic injuries, what do you do inside or outside of work to manage stress and remain resilient?
Whilst working at the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre, the therapists met monthly in a group meeting with a consultant psychiatrist. This was an opportunity to talk about any difficult or emotional situations that had arisen. Talking through events and hearing different perspectives was useful and I think that this has helped me to develop coping skills. I always try to deal with difficult situations head on and even when these can be emotional, as long as I feel confident that my actions have been the best possible to deal with or assist in a situation, I try to reassure myself that I’ve done my best and life is tough with absolutely no guarantees!
What three words sum you up?
Diligent, optimistic, pragmatic.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
Working with a good team of motivated case managers and hearing how they are being of benefit to their clients is inspiring. I think I may also have a slightly competitive nature which makes me want to perform well in whatever I am doing!
What attracted you to HCML?
When I first enquired about working with HCML, I was greeted with a really personal approach. A member of the team called me for an introductory chat which was really helpful to be able to ask questions and get a feel for the company. It was much nicer than having the first contacts being through HR and a formal interview.
What are the three top qualities you think a case manager should have?
Positivity, organisation, persuasiveness!
What’s your favourite thing about being a case manager?
When you exceed a client’s expectations, and they realise that they can do something that they thought wouldn’t be possible.
What do you find is the biggest challenge as a case manager?
The biggest challenge is working with an individual who is not motivated – whether through negative prior experiences, difficulty coping, pain, low mood, or anxiety, it’s difficult to see as I’m aware that attitude is one of the most important predictors of outcome.
How do you maintain relationships with clients?
Try to understand who they are as a person, what makes them happy and what’s important to them, not just their physical or psychological symptoms.
How is HCML different from other rehab and case management providers?
HCML has a more supportive environment and tries very hard to make remote workers feel part of a team. The CMS system is also very good and much better than software I have used at other companies, which makes day-to-day activities less frustrating!
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
Before I became a physiotherapist, I was an aerial performer and spent the year 2000 performing in the show in the Millenium Dome. This involved performing acrobatics at heights of up to 40 metres above the ground!
What is your defining career highlight?
I was the Chief Investigator on a research study investigating the effectiveness of transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation. The study ran well despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the results were incredibly promising.