Sector Spotlight

Focused on returning clients to everyday life

Our Recover Independence Service helps people to take big strides to recover their lives and secure their futures.





For most people an injury claim is a fleeting experience. Ninety percent of the 1.7 million claims lodged each year are only for medical fees. But some people, often with complex circumstances, need longer-term support.

ACC’s specialist Recover Independence Service (RIS), established in 2009, meets the rehabilitation needs of nearly 6,000 long-term clients – people who’ve needed support from ACC for more than two and a half years. The service is about supporting and encouraging people to reach their maximum level of independence, to get their lives back on track. To achieve this, RIS invests millions of dollars each year on vocational rehabilitation services designed to help people resume their normal lives.


Research shows that lengthy periods out of the workforce result in poor health and wellbeing for injured people and their families. People out of work for more than six months have only a 50/50 chance of ever returning to work; they can lose motivation, drift into depression and negative behaviour and find it difficult to see a way out.

It’s understandable that after a lengthy period of support, some clients find the prospect of independence daunting. But being out of work for years, unless it’s medically necessary and properly supported, isn’t helpful for people.

Which means that we sometimes have to re-double our efforts to help these clients.

Working with clients

This is where RIS comes in. It’s responsible for reviewing and working with longer-term clients to complete their rehabilitation and help them into independence in the community, or to work.

The process starts with a detailed and collaborative review of the client’s situation, the services already provided to them and the results achieved so far. Input is provided by the client, their GP, other service providers, and Branch Medical and Psychological Advisors and the Case Manager.  It involves building relationships with all parties, which is why face-to-face meetings are favoured.

The “team” assesses any issues affecting the client’s wellbeing as a whole, such as lasting physical consequences from their injury, and any psycho-social barriers that prevent return-to-work or independence. Common barriers are literacy and skill levels, drug and alcohol dependence and loss of motivation and depression.

Our approach is to work with the client to re-develop their independent rehabilitation plan and agree it with them. This isn’t always easy, as clients can be anxious and concerned about change and naturally reluctant to embark on new treatment and rehabilitation.

Services available

We have a broad range of services we can call on to support them: physical rehabilitation, pain management and other clinical services to help them get physically well; and vocationally-oriented initiatives such as training, work trials and job placement.

We’ve learned that applying this intense focus goes a long way to achieving positive results for these clients. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way; even when we’ve done all we can for them, and they are vocationally independent, some still find it difficult to return to their old life, while some look to other agencies for further support.

On a positive note, we’ve been able to help hundreds of people each year to recover their lives and secure their futures in the workplace.

We appreciate the support of GPs and other treatment and rehabilitation providers in helping our clients achieve this.

Published 01/10/2012

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