News » Your Individual Rehabilitation Plan (IRP) is the most important document, after your medical reports, on your ACC file. Is yours right for you?

There is a pressing need for funding from ACC to cover the costs of advocacy and representation for the client when an IRP is being prepared.

The IRP is crucial to a successful agreed outcome in the interaction between case manager and client. Unfortunately it is clear that many IRP’s are not written as joint documents but are instead presented to the client by the case manager with the instruction to “sign here, here and here”. This frequently results in dissatisfied clients who may or may not be getting the best rehabilitation available to them under the ACC legislation.

ACC maintain that the case manager is the only person with the experience, skills and knowledge of IRP’s to be involved in the IRP conference. They are happy to include any support person chosen by the client but without that experience, skills and knowledge of the process a support person can support with common sense and personal support but rarely contribute where it counts in practice.

The solution is to have an experienced advocate assisting the client to put forward what he/she wants in that plan leading to the IRP being the agreed to document that it is supposed to be. This experience cannot be expected to be always available without cost. Note that ACC 92, the IRP form, is headed “The Individual Rehabilitation Plan (IRP) is a document that outlines the agreed outcome, services and timeframe to assist your recovery”.

Rehabilitation is enhanced when both parties agree to how it is to be achieved. The individual rehabilitation system requires the client to be aware of the benefits available to successfully rehabilitate from injury and to ask for that to be outlined in the IRP document. It is well established in rehabilitation theory that a better prognosis is achieved when the client ‘buys into’ (the agreed part of the IRP perhaps) the rehabilitation.

ACC flatly refuses, as policy, to reimburse costs to clients of those advocates who assist them to reach this agreement. Yet it is unreasonable to expect that every client is able to properly and knowingly agree to the outcome, services and timeframes to recovery without assistance from someone who is independent of ACC and has an understanding of the ACC system and how IRP’s work.

Trade unions, citizens advice, beneficiaries organisations, disability groups, churches all try to help their members and others where they can and they are to be congratulated for this but without professional staff regularly active in ACC matters how are they to obtain and/or keep the experience and focus that is required.

ACC like to quote S 262 of the IPRC Act to justify refusing to reimburse clients costs of representation but that section is better read in conjunction with the rest of the Act particularly the following parts from Schedule 1, Part 1:

(7) (c) the claimant’s right to have a representative involved in the preparation of the plan; and

(3) (a) the claimant must be given an opportunity to participate in the preparation and costing of the plan to the extent that they are willing and able to do so; and

(4) the Corporation is liable to meet the costs of preparing the plan, including the costs of any assessment that it has approved as necessary to enable the preparation of a plan.

That is, because the ACC may provide resources (S 262) it therefore can should it choose to and, out of natural justice and to produce the best possible outcome and to fulfil those other requirements of the Act, quoted above, it should fund a clients representation in the preparation of his/her IRP.

It is to be noted that:

  1. Access Support Services and ACC Support Action Nelson has been asking ACC’s Community Outlook Group, to address this issue since August 2004 yet cannot even get it on their agenda.
  2. Two well-attended public meetings called by ACC Support Action Nelson proposed that ACC fund clients representation while developing an agreed to Individual Rehabilitation Plan but to no avail from ACC or the Community Outlook Group
  3. The Auditor General’s report on ACC noted ACC’s failures in properly consulting on IRP’s yet what has been done?

You can contact us to discuss what you may be missing out on through having an inadequate IRP by clicking here: issues@accesssupport.co.nz

03 548 6962 or 09 281 4558

enquiries@accesssupport.co.nz

PO Box 9058, Nelson