CMSUK Case Manager of the Year 2012 - Niccola Irwin

Posted 25th January 2013

Congratulations to Niccola Irwin, from Harrison Associates for winning this years award.

To read more about Niccola's case success and award submission please follow the link below

Niccola Irwin from Harrison Associates won the award this year for her outstanding work. The other finalists were Emma Merriman of Bush and Co, Pauline Viercant of Argent Rehabilitation, and Selina Wong of HCML.

Here is the case study which support Niccola's nomination;

Niccola helped Karen to not only reach but to realise her goals, following traumatic above-knee amputation.

Niccola Irwin is a proactive and dedicated case manager for Harrison Associates. She first met Karen, aged 29 years, when she was still in hospital. Karen had been cycling to work when she was involved in a road traffic accident resulting in a left above-knee amputation. She also suffered pelvic fractures and extensive tissue damage to her buttocks and right leg. Her left femur was fractured and she had an external fixator applied, limiting early prosthetic rehabilitation. She had a temporary colonoscopy bag in place to minimise infection.

Before her accident Karen was socially and physically active, often travelling abroad for holidays and for her employment. Initially Karen wanted to go back to her pre-injury life and her full-time marketing role and pretend nothing had happened. She accepted that her accommodation in a shared house with three others would not be suitable, but otherwise she thought she would leave hospital with a prosthesis and that life would resume as normal.

The first challenge was to find suitable level-access rental accommodation in central London so that Karen’s discharge could be planned. Niccola viewed a number of properties and then arranged minor adaptations and appropriate equipment. Niccola put in place an agency care package for discharge.

Niccola then focused on establishing a suitable rehabilitation routine for Karen. This was provided through a mix of NHS and private consultants and therapists. Niccola worked hard to communicate with all parties. She arranged for wheelchair and prosthetic provision, psychology input, outpatient nursing care, and private surgical input to reverse Karen’s colonoscopy. She also introduced a private prosthetic specialist physiotherapist. Later, a driving assessment and driving lessons were arranged and she helped Karen purchase an automatic vehicle.

Six months following discharge, Niccola met with Karen’s employers. They were keen to support her to return to work, initially working from home on a part time basis and then increasing to include some office based work. Niccola undertook risk assessment and monitored Karen’s work capacity and continued to meet regularly with her employers. At one point Karen was almost managing full time hours, but she then experienced stump changes and suffered a set back in her mobility. Karen began to realise that she could not prioritise her work over her rehabilitation. Part time hours were negotiated and a better life-balance ensued.

Karen’s adjustment to her disability did not only embrace changes in her working life, but Niccola helped her with her approach towards her prosthesis. She is now keen to pursue more functional prostheses and is less worried about looking different. She happily donned skirts and shorts during the summer. Her goal is now to keep travelling the world, like she did pre-injury. Almost a year after Karen’s accident Niccola assisted with arrangements for Karen to take two holidays to Grenada and Hungary, and she has just returned from a wonderful holiday in Thailand.

Over time Niccola helped Karen to realise the importance of comprehensive rehabilitation. She also helped her to adjust her goals to a level which will afford Karen a well-balanced lifestyle.

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