Accreditation for Case Managers: IRCM

Since 2010, members of BABICM, CMSUK and VRA have been progressing the development of a professional body for case managers. This was based on the responses to surveys and research – related to the views of case managers and other stakeholders – regarding the need for regulatory mechanisms, underpinned by standardised training and a professional pathway that includes an educational framework.

There has been extensive work via members and leaders of BABICM, CMSUK and the VRA to develop a professional pathway for case managers in the UK. This was based on the “strong evidence in support of the need for a professional pathway that includes an educational framework.” In addition, evidence suggested that partnership working between case management organisations would be the most effective way of implementing any change.

Building on the joint work of BABICM and CMSUK which resulted in the development of the Joint Code of Ethics (revised 2017 and amended to reflect the inclusion of the VRA), this tripartite working party has been continuing its’ common goal of achieving the highest quality of case management services alongside the protection of service users and the public. Professor Edgar Meyer, Associate Dean at Imperial College Business school and specialist in the Development of Education programmes and Education quality was appointed as a facilitator and has continued to support the direction and development of the goals.

Research related to accreditation models and processes identified that current UK Government policy is only to regulate further groups in exceptional circumstances and where voluntary registers are insufficient to manage the risk involved. The tripartite group undertook an extensive review of a number of alternative mechanisms for accreditation, which included Chartership, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) and schemes such as the one operated by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). Following this review, it was agreed that the PSA was the most suitable route.

The PSA is an independent body accountable to the UK Parliament and responsible for the oversight of the nine health and social care regulators who maintain professional registers such as NMC and HCPC. They assess the standards and processes that a professional association (such as CMSUK, BABICM and VRA) uses to determine whether a practitioner should be on their register, in order for that register to be accredited (or quality assured) by the PSA. They also review fitness to practice decisions as part of their oversight function. The individual practitioner gains some gravitas from being accepted then onto that PSA accredited register.

In light of this decision, the group obtained legal advice related to the legal structure and the business and tax implications for both the new entity and BABICM, CMSUK and VRA. The advice obtained was that any new entity which would be a not for profit organisation and separate from the three main organisations should be a company limited by guarantee. Such a structure allows rights of membership and would have a board inclusive of representatives of BABICM, CMSUK and VRA.

Following the approval of all three Boards:

  • A new company has been established trading as the Institute of Registered Case Managers (IRCM)
  • An initial Vision and Mission has been agreed
  • An application will be submitted to the PSA

Over the last 8 months, the group has worked tirelessly to review each organisations’ standards of practice alongside those in existence with other professional groups. They have utilised internationally recognised research undertaken by Sue Lukersmith to create first draft technical standards for its’ process of accreditation with the PSA. These technical standards will be supported by an education strategy to develop joint training events that underpin the standards and potentially offer a way of raising funds to support the accreditation process. Business standards including finance, governance, PR and marketing are currently being developed.

The group has extended its’ membership to include NHS representation as we are actively seeking to include case managers in other sectors as well as those working within the medico-legal/insurance industry.

IRCM Mission: To safeguard people who use case management services, by setting and upholding standards for registered case managers.

The Future

Plans for an official launch in early 2021 are being made and a financial model and business plan is in development. Funding of this work to date has been via membership fees paid to the organisations. In order to continue this development, the group will be engaging with a range of stakeholders for their support in this exciting development.

BABICM, CMSUK and VRA wish to reinforce their commitment to continue to collaborate in their provision of services to their memberships and work towards accreditation which ultimately provides reassurance to stakeholders and protection of the public.

A comprehensive awareness-raising programme, including information campaigns, conference and social media marketing is being planned.

A series of webinars to inform the membership of more detail is being planned for the Autumn, alongside presentations to industry stakeholders such as APIL, FOIL and others.

We are delighted to have been invited to present at the APIL Annual Conference in November 2020 and would welcome other approaches from across case management sectors so that we can access as many stakeholders as possible

IRCM Vision We will be fair, proportionate and effective in administering a nationally recognised register, ensuring protection of service users and the public by promoting and upholding high standards of practice and ethical conduct for the case management profession.

Article by: Deborah Edwards, Chair VRA Karen Burgin, Chair CMSUK Angela Kerr, Chair BABICM