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Supporting injured workers through integrated care initiatives

Reaching workers’ compensation beneficiaries far and wide

Disability affects individuals’ lives in many profound ways, and the personal journey in dealing with the consequences of physical injury is unique to each individual. The emotional and practical challenges that sudden disability presents are equally complex and singular. Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA) understands these challenges and has thus adopted a culture of caring, compassionate compensation when assisting injured workers.

“Southern Africa is a vast geographical area, and mining and heavy industry in this country attract workers from far and wide. When people suffer life-changing disability, they frequently opt to return to their families for the support that their loved ones provide,” says Dr Deodat Kritzinger, General Manager: Medical of RMA.

“Outside of the major cities, however, there are often not sufficient services and facilities to meet a disabled person’s particular needs. Mobility and transport, as well as access to the necessary specialist healthcare, may pose particular difficulties. RMA has thus taken it as part of its responsibility to lessen such burdens and ensure the lives under its care receive the support they need. We have therefore developed a range of services to provide meaningful assistance to beneficiaries, as part of our commitment to deliver caring, compassionate compensation.”

In the 122 years since RMA was founded to administer workers’ compensation, advances in health and safety regulations and industry-driven initiatives have made significant inroads in the prevention of occupational injuries. In heavy industry, however, accidents do still occur from time to time, and it is RMA’s role to provide ongoing medical treatment and compensation in accordance with the terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA).

“As part of this responsibility, we have established a network of local preferred healthcare providers near our beneficiaries. If a disabled RMA pensioner needs to travel long distances to access healthcare, we offer assistance with their transport, both to and from the health facilities, to help make the process more convenient for them,” Dr Kritzinger adds.

“Maximising the mobility of individuals with disabilities is an important aspect of supporting their independence. For this reason, RMA partners with prosthetics and orthotics specialists to provide these devices, as well as their sustained annual maintenance and replacement, when necessary.”

The RMA mobile prosthetic clinic travels each year to bring these services to its beneficiaries, visiting rural areas to bring its special brand of care to claimants who live far away from cities where such services are more readily available. Apart from its South African service offerings, the RMA mobile clinic recently completed its 11th consecutive annual expedition to Malawi and is due to visit Lesotho again shortly.

“We have got to know our beneficiaries well over the years, and we are also aware of the socioeconomic circumstances under which some of these communities live. In some cases, the RMA social fund has assisted in establishing food gardens and helped with house renovations in our quest to improve the lot of beneficiaries and their families,” he adds.

Certain RMA beneficiaries’ families cannot offer the level of care they require, and these individuals are provided for at the Rand Mutual Care Facility in Welkom, in the Free State. The state-of-the-art facility, which was officially opened by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant in April, provides full-time custodial care for 16 residents at present, as well as a range of services, including pressure sore management, rehabilitation and pro-active health interventions, to other beneficiaries of RMA-administered compensation in terms of COIDA.

“Our own centrally-located Rand Mutual Care Facility has allowed us to ensure that our pensioners receive the highest standard of care, in a custom-built medical and rehabilitation unit that has been designed and developed to be as inclusive and enabling an environment as possible,” Dr Kritzinger observes.

“In RMA’s considerable experience, it is not only the pensioners’ physical health, but also how they feel and interact with others that contributes to a sense of wellbeing. There are frequent visits from family, friends and community, as well as great friendships between the 16 men living here and the staff. Residents enjoy outings, games and sporting events.

“This helps to dissolve the walls of the facility, as it is very important that residents feel meaningfully included in society. This is a significant aspect of the kind of rehabilitation we want to offer beneficiaries,” Dr Kritzinger asserts.

“The RMA Mobile Clinic and Rand Mutual Care Facility are just two of the initiatives we have developed as part of a spectrum of services to support claimants. The care we strive to provide is multi-dimensional and personalised to the individual’s particular circumstances and stage of recovery.

“We have found that embracing a diverse approach to care, with the help of our partners, lends a more intuitive level of support and commitment in our mission of assisting people living with life-changing injuries. The dignity of the individual is central to our ethos of caring, compassionate compensation,” Dr Kritzinger concluded.

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