Early in the year I attended a seminar with Janet Stowe (Occupational Therapist) giving a presentation about how to write a good report. This is what I took from Janet’s excellent talk.
TIME = MONEY
How true this is and how important it is to know your worth. Consider all these points below:
- Terms of business, get these signed and agreed before starting.
- If it is a joint instruction – get both sides agreed before you start.
- Don’t accept payment terms of getting paid at the end of the case – a case settlement could take years.
- If you are asked to make amendments, you can add the cost of the amends to your invoice.
- Read all case notes to make sure you know what’s missing, any identifiable gaps in notes, any illness, any psychological issues before the event took place. Look at family history.
- Don’t be afraid to delay a visit if you have not yet received a psychological report.
- Make sure you have hospital reports.
- Refer to all reports in full to reference.
- Make contact with your client to arrange the visit, you will gain quite a bit of information during this initial conversation.
- Send a letter to the client as confirmation of the appointment.
- Inform instructing solicitor of your booked appointment.
- Complete your report on paper at the visit, not on a laptop. Eye contact is so important, they want to see you engaging with them, not staring at your keypad.
- You may wish to record the interview.
- Make sure you have a tailored questionnaire.
- Use different coloured pens to differentiate between who spoke in the interview.
- If there is conflict in the information, you feel may not be quite right, leave space on your form.
- Hospital records, see how often they visit.
- Keep observing client, it may throw up things from visual observation.
- Write everything down, the client may dispute what the Case Manager writes in court.
- Take a camera or phone to take photos of person at that specific time.
- Front page
- Pre-accident history
- Social life
You have to justify everything you report. You are telling a story. It must be easy to read, showing problems and solutions with the costs, the equipment required, why is it needed, what’s the solution, the cost and the replacement cost. Always make reference to where you get information from.
- The care part is always the most difficult and most likely contested area.
- There is nothing wrong with being a cynic, it will make you think more.
- Detail where you get your costs/quotes from.
- Costs related to time travelled and parking costs in hospitals by family members needs to be included in the costings.
- Prepare care in chronological order. Be clear on your costs of what is needed.
- Make sure you follow instructions properly.
- The more evidence based, the better your report.
- If you need more information, make sure you ask.
For a video of Janet’s excellent talk, please click here.