Feature Case Manager - Sam Harris

Posted 30th June 2009

Sam is one of the new CMSUK board members.  Here she gives us some insight into her journey into Case Management

I trained in Nottingham and qualified as a registered general nurse 1990.  I planned to move to Northampton following my training and wanted to work on a medical renal ward.  Unfortunately Northampton being a smaller general hospital did not have such a specialist ward so I applied for a surgical job.  The day before interview, to my horror I found out that I was being interviewed for a trauma & orthopaedic ward.  I attended the interview and was offered the post and thought I would move on after 6 months as I did not feel that this was my forte.  I wanted kidneys not brains and bones.

9 years later I was still working within Trauma & Orthopaedics enjoying the delights of broken bones, spinal injuries and head injuries.  After successfully completing the Trauma Course and reaching a Deputy Sister grade I returned to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham as a Support Sister in a very large trauma orthopaedic directorate.  This directorate included three Trauma Wards, two elective surgical wards, an Orthopaedic, Spinal and Fracture Outpatients Department, and the Regional Spinal Unit.  It was here that I met Helen Ainsworth and in 2001 took over her role as Practice Development Sister within this unit.   As part of my role I coordinated both level 2 and level 3 NVQ programmes and acted as an Assessor and Internal Verifier. I also coordinated the implementation of both clinical governance, clinical supervision and staff development programmes.  

In 2002 I was working quite happily as a practice development sister in this very large directorate when one day I received a call from Helen asking if I would be interested in working within case management.  This sounded very appealing.  So far my experience of rehabilitation had been within the hospital setting and the idea of working with people who had suffered a traumatic injury and living within the community gave me a great opportunity build on my experiences to date.  I therefore started working for Helen as a consultant on a part time basis.

How my life changed!  By 2004 I had left the safety net of the NHS to venture full time into the world of case management.  I worked predominantly with Helen as she established HACM Limited as a company.  The transition from working as a nurse within the NHS to working as a case manager in the independent sector was an interesting time.  My skills were transferable particularly those associated with communication, planning and organisation (essential attributes required of any case manager).  It was however a massive learning curve and continues to be so.  Every day usually presents a new challenge.

The most rewarding part of case management is developing the therapeutic relationships with the clients and seeing them progress, retain their independence and regain some normality.  This was something that I was not privy to in the NHS and case management helped me experience the long term impact that injuries, particularly catastrophic injuries have on people's lives.

By 2007 I was the Senior Consultant Case Manager for HACM and my role was split between the Case Management of clients with brain and spinal injury and the training and supervision of Case Managers providing similar support to clients, including audit and quality control.

At this time Helen had decided that she wished to focus on her expert work and gave me the opportunity to purchase HACM Limited and in January 2008 I became the new Managing Director of the company.  This was clearly a big step for me. However with the support of the team around me and two additional case managers I have found it an incredibly fulfilling stage of my life.

I do feel privileged to be a case manager and in particular becoming a member of the CMSUK board and although this is yet another deep plunge for me I hope I can seize the opportunity to influence the direction and development of case management in the United Kingdom.  

Sam Harris

Managing Director and case manager HACM Limited.

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