The CAPS Credential & Workers’ Comp

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

CAPS is a credential sometimes found after the names of construction professionals and other specialists involved in home modifications. It stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.

Aging in place (AIP) is a concept driven by the large numbers of baby boomers who want to stay in their homes rather than move to senior communities or assistive living facilities if they become impaired.

Developed by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in cooperation with the AARP, the CAPS program teaches the business, technical and customer service skills needed to modify homes for AIP. NAHB administers the CAPS certification, which requires candidates to pass three day-long courses, typically held at building supply stores, builders’ association offices, or conference centers.

CAPS-certified contractors can be good partners in adaptive housing projects for injured workers. They’re accustomed to projects that accommodate mobility, balance and accessibility issues.

However, adaptive housing solutions for injured workers need to take more things into consideration, including their changing clinical needs and the weight and size of sophisticated rehab equipment. For example, a front-wheel drive powerchair has a large turning radius, requiring a wider door than the manual chairs typically used by older people. Power chairs, Hoyer lifts and other rehab equipment used in workers’ comp take up more room and can be much heavier than Medicare-covered equipment.

Additionally, the worker’s recovery outlook needs to be considered for cost-effective solutions. For example, a temporary ramp (pictured above) can be used when the injured worker is expected to be able to use stairs down the road.

It’s best to pair a CAPS-certified contractor with an Occupational Therapist (OT) or Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) who has a lot of experience in workers’ compensation. OTs and ATPs are better able to interpret medical records and progress notes from the rehab center and create precise specifications. They’re also more aware of rehab equipment and how to combine it with home modifications. In short, CAPS is a valuable certification for contractors and remodelers working on workers’ comp projects when they are integrated into teams with clinical specialists, which is ATF Medical’s approach.

We deliver a fully integrated mobility and accessibility solution–ALL the equipment, rehab technology, mobility products, vehicle mods, and adaptive housing projects that a complex workers’ comp case needs.

If you’d like to know more about our comprehensive solutions, please contact Rick Wyche at rwyche@atfmedical.com or Erin Zablocki at ezablocki@atfmedical.com.

 

What Does the ADA Have to do with Workers’ Comp?

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

As you probably know, the ADA is the acronym for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among many other things, the ADA provides design standards to ensure accessibility to public entities.

The operative word is public: office buildings, libraries, courthouses and other government buildings, restaurants, and shopping centers. ADA standards help create spaces designed to be used by the largest portion of the disabled population, regardless of the disability. It’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Hence buildings have ramps, wide halls, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and features for the visually and hearing impaired.

Similarly, universal design is the “design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.” Again, universal design is for facilities, workplaces, and other public spaces.

Neither standard applies to residences. If they did, halls would be freakishly wide and lined with handrails and every bathroom would be wheelchair accessible.

It’s fine to use contractors with these certifications, but it’s not mandatory. These understand how to build and renovate to accommodate disabilities. But they are not necessarily used to adapting a single home for a single worker with specific functional limitations.

Workers’ comp adaptive housing solutions are extremely customized. At least, they should be. To that end, ATF Medical pairs an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) Occupational Therapist (OT), and/or a Certified Environmental Access Consultant (C.E.A.C.) with the contractor. These experts take a clinical approach to combining rehab technology with adaptive housing solutions.

Each worker is different. Each condition is different, and each adaptive housing solution is different.

Our Executive Director/Rehab Technology Erin Zablocki, CDME, Master C.E.A.C., ECHM is an expert in adaptive housing solutions and would be happy to answer your questions about the ADA or clinically driven home modifications. Email her at ezablocki@atfmedical.com

 

What is a CHAMP Certification?

Thursday, December 8th, 2022

You may notice the initials CHAMP after the names of some rehab or construction professionals. It’s an acronym for Certified Home Assessment and Modification Professional. It’s also short for champion, of course, and professionals who improve the lives of seriously injured people are certainly champions.

Created just for workers’ compensation, CHAMP is a contractor and accessibility specialist home modification certification program. It was originally initially designed for contractors, but over time the content expanded to include case managers and claims representatives who want to better understand adaptive housing projects.

The first step to certification involves intense onsite training. The three-day course explains the workers’ compensation market and terms like medical necessity and disability and about common injuries and medical and functional status. Attendees also learn how to complete assessments and develop a scope of work along with accepted practices for estimating and timelines. The course also discusses products and services, e.g., lifts and medical equipment.

There is also a CHAMPConnect conference that brings claims representatives together with contractors to focus on housing issues and home modifications for injured workers.

ATF Medical promotes professional development among our staff. We are proud to have certified ATPs, CHAMPS, ECHMs, CEACs, CAPS and  more on our roster. Our new Manager of Rehab Technology Dave Bedard holds the CHAMP credential as well as the Assistive Technology Professional (ATP).

If you’re interested learning more about our adaptive housing solutions, please contact Erin Zablocki, our Executive Director of Rehab Technology at ezoblocki@ATFMedical.com.

 

Exploring the ECHM Certificate

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

The ECHM, Executive Certificate in Home Modification, is another credential some rehab professionals pursue.
The ECHM program focuses on maximizing home environments for disabled or elderly people. It’s designed for professionals working in the field of supportive home environments, such as remodelers/contractors, occupational and physical therapists, and Assistive Technology Professionals. Our Executive Director of Rehabilitation Erin Zablocki holds this certification among others.

The University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology offers the ECHM program. It involves five distinct on-line courses. Content covers assistive devices and home modifications to promote a person’s independence.

The classes also go into how to select a qualified contractor, negotiate for services, and read architectural plans. And there’s instruction on disease and function-specific modifications and ethics.

The whole point of home modifications, or as we call them—adaptive housing solutions—is to convert the environment to make performing tasks easier and support independent living. This can range from adding grab bars and ramps to complete kitchen remodels so an injured worker in a wheelchair can cook for themselves.

ATF Medical approaches these projects by evaluating the injured worker and the home and then deploying a team of experts in mobility, accessibility and construction to design and produce a new home setting for a specific injured or ill worker.

We evaluate rehab technology, assistive devices, and construction changes to create the most appropriate and cost-effective solution for a specific person. Our construction specialists select and oversee the contractors and ensure the work is completed on time and within budget. And we communicate with claims representatives every step of the way.

If you’d like more information on ECHM certification, please go to https://homemods.org/echm/ and to learn about ATF Medical’s adaptive housing solutions, contact Erin Zablocki, ECHM, CEAC at ezablocki@atfmedical.com.

What Do CRT and CRTS Mean?

Monday, August 15th, 2022

Photo courtesy of Permobil

August 15-19 is National CRT Awareness Week, a good time to talk about CRT and CRTS.

CRT is a popular term that stands for all kinds of things, including cognitive rehabilitation therapy, critical race theory, and Certified Respiratory Therapist. But in our space, CRT refers to complex rehabilitation technology, which is medical equipment that is configured for a specific injured worker.

The need for customization distinguishes CRT from out-of-the-box durable medical equipment like walkers. CRT equipment and devices are adapted and configured to meet the functional, medical, social and physical needs of a specific person.

Many CRT devices deploy advanced electronics and controls to provide individual seating, positioning, and mobility. Some can be programmed to move patients who are unable to move or shift their weight at regular intervals, pressure relief techniques that prevent pressure injuries.

CRT equipment you’re likely to see on complex claims are:
• Sophisticated power chair systems 
• Rehab exercise systems
• Vehicle lifts
• Customized manual wheelchairs
• Alternative seating & positioning products
• Gait trainers
Standing devices

There is also a professional designation, CRTS, which stands for Certified Rehabilitation Technology Supplier. These professionals undergo a certification process, which includes courses on seating, mobility, and skin integrity. The National Registry of Rehabilitation Suppliers administers the certification.

A CRTS, Occupational Therapist (OT), Physical Therapist (PT) or an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) performs a thorough evaluation of the injured worker, their environment and physical limitations. The specialist then researches options and recommends the rehab technology products. They also conduct the fittings and manage the programming while educating the injured worker on the equipment’s use and care.

ATF Medical works with state-of-the-art CRT manufacturers and our experts stay on top of the latest product releases and upgrades to ensure injured workers receive the most appropriate equipment for their conditions.

We manage the entire process—from referral through the lifetime of the claim, including maintenance and repairs.

Claims reps shouldn’t have to learn everything about the vast array of equipment and features. Nor should they have to deal with day-to-day ordering and scheduling issues.

If you’d like to know more about our CRT solutions, please contact Rick Wyche, rwyche@atfmedical.com

Related:

http://What is Complex Rehabilitation Technology (CRT) equipment? (permobil.com)

New Technologies Speed Wheelchair Repairs/Prevent Accidents

What is a CEAC and Why Are They Working on My Claim?

Thursday, June 9th, 2022
Stair lift on yellow staircase
Automatic stair lift on staircase

Standing for Certified Environmental Access Consultant, CEAC is a certification held by many professionals who develop adaptive housing solutions. Environmental access refers to the process of physically changing a home, in our case, to foster independence and functionality for an injured worker.

The concept for this accreditation arose because the market was full of remodeling contractors, interior designers, and rehab professionals–all with varying levels of understanding about home modifications. The CEAC program was created to reduce the disparity in their training and practices.

VGM Live at Home administers the CEAC credentialling program. It involves a six-part, self-study educational program, unit reviews, and a comprehensive final exam. The course prepares rehab and construction professionals to take an overall look at the injured worker and their abilities along with safety hazards, and the home environment, and recommend appropriate changes. A variety of professionals, including physical and occupational therapists, assistive technology professionals, remodeling contractors and builders, and interior designers, can take the course to qualify for the certification.

The CEAC certificate symbolizes competence that separates environmental access professionals from a para-professional trade. In addition to our CEAC-certified partners in the field, ATF Medical has three CEACs on staff.

One is our Supervisor of Adaptive Housing Karissa Peffer.  Karissa coordinates adaptive housing solutions, collaborating closely with contractors and professionals to make sure home modifications are appropriate for the injured individual’s physical condition and lifestyle.

Rachel Amentt, who is a Coordinator II in Adaptive Housing, recently received her CEAC certification. And our Executive Director of Rehab Technology, Erin Zablocki, was one of the first five people in the nation to earn the Master CEAC designation. Already a CEAC for several years, Erin took additional training in core product categories for the field to earn the Master accreditation.

ATF Medical’s professionals continue to learn and grow in their fields, and the company covers the cost of their continuing education. We do this to ensure that our adaptive housing solutions are clinically driven and outcome centric. You can spend all the money in the world on a home mod, but if it doesn’t work for the specific injured worker, it’s all for naught.

A team of specialists collaborate on each of ATF Medical’s adaptive housing projects. Assistive Technology Professionals, Occupational Therapists, and—yes—CEACs work together. We look at every angle and consider the medical equipment, assistive technologies, the home’s construction, and the person’s lifestyle before recommending an adaptive housing solution.

We’re constantly looking at new technologies and new construction methods. And we’re constantly educating ourselves so that we can equip every seriously injured worker to live their best life.

For information on our adaptive housing solutions, contact Erin Zablocki, ezablocki@atfmedical.com.

 

OT = Occupational Therapist, But What Do These Therapists Do?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022

OT working with patient

Occupational therapists (OTs) and are highly skilled healthcare professionals who help people adapt to injuries and illnesses. The term “occupational” is a bit of misnomer because not all OTs focus on work activities.

You’ll find them in nearly every medical field, including orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, mental health, geriatrics, and oncology. They often serve patients who need to recover the ability to perform activities of daily living. Some seriously ill COVID-19 patients who had lengthy hospital stays learned to bathe and dress themselves again with the help of OTs.

Like physical therapists, they help people increase strength and flexibility, usually in the upper extremities. OTs can also assess a patient’s social and communication skills and recommend ways to improve them.

Educational requirements are stringent. Candidates need to graduate at a master’s or doctoral level from an occupational therapy program and be accredited by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Those that also pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) have OTR instead of OT after their names. Then after all that, OTs must be licensed by their local states. Most states require continuing education for OTs to maintain their licenses.

In workers’ compensation, OTs wear a lot of hats. You’ll find them assigned to claims with upper body injuries, including cumulative musculoskeletal injuries of the hands and arms. They also perform job analyses and recommend ergonomic changes, accessibility and assistive technologies, and work accommodations to facilitate return to work.

Naturally, at ATF Medical OTs usually work on complex claims, including spinal cord injuries, falls, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and crush injuries. OTs evaluate the injured worker’s condition, their home and family situation, and recommend ways to restore as much independence and functionality along with the highest quality of life as possible.

For example, our Director of Rehab Technology Edwina Murphy, OT, ATP developed a way to prevent wounds. ATF Medical’s Pressure Injury Prevention Program identifies areas where pressure injuries are developing or are likely to develop and recommends ways to avoid painful wounds.

OTs at ATF Medical work on adaptive housing solutions, assessing the home, evaluating the injured individual. They stay up to date on the plethora of assistive technologies, adaptive equipment, emerging accessibility tools, and home renovation designs. Their expertise makes them valuable members of the team that decides on the best most efficient and cost-effective adaptive housing solutions.

This is part of a series defining some of the acronyms and terms in our industry.  If there is one you want us to explain, please email rwyche@atfmedical.com.

What is an ATP Anyway?

Thursday, April 28th, 2022

Acronyms mean different things in different industries. Take ATM. It is an automated teller machine in banking and asynchronous transfer mode in telecommunications. It also stands for “at the moment” in texts.

Workers’ comp is rife with acronyms and credentials. There’s CPCU, ARM, MSCC, and CMSP.  Within the rehab technology field, you’ll find ATP, OT, PT, CAPS, CHAMP, CEAC, and more. All the initials behind the names of rehab pros can be confusing, so we decided to do some posts explaining some of the acronyms and certifications in our field.

First up, ATP. Aviation has an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) certification, but in our world, ATP stands for Assistive Technology Professional.

The ATP certificate is earned through RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of America. RESNA defines ATP as a certification that “recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers’ needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.”

Only professionals with a specific ratio of academic to work experience can sit for the ATP exam. The test covers a wide knowledge base since ATPs work with so many different assistive technologies. You’ll find them in mobility, seating, and positioning and home mods. ATPs also work with sensory aides, computer accessibility, and devices for the hearing or visually impaired.

In addition to knowing the technical aspects, ATPs need to understand payer sources. There are wildly different standards and approval processes in workers’ comp, Medicare/Medicaid, and private insurance.

Also, in comp, many patients have just experienced sudden, catastrophic changes to their lives. Their providers need soft skills like active listening, good communication, and empathy.

At ATF Medical, most ATPs engage in mobility, seating and positioning, and adaptive housing solutions. Our ATPs collaborate with other professionals to create solutions that balance home modifications and medical equipment. Sometimes the right medical equipment can eliminate the need for a kitchen remodel. The goal is to equip the injured worker for maximum independence, functionality, and quality of life.

ATPs assess a person’s physical, functional, and clinical condition. They also consider family dynamics, lifestyle, pre-injury activities, and return-to-work options. Then they analyze hundreds of rehab technologies and recommend the most appropriate products and features.

ATPs also fit complex rehab equipment to the injured individual and educate them and their families on its use and maintenance. Our ATPs return a few weeks later to answer questions, adjust equipment, and make sure the worker is able to use its features.

In fact, our ATPs stay in touch with the injured worker throughout the life of the claim, maintaining and repairing equipment, and monitoring the worker’s progress. In many ways, they are the claims rep’s eyes and ears on the ground.

Hopefully, this article tells you what an ATP is and what they do. We will cover other industry credentials in upcoming posts. Please let us know if there is a particular one you’d like us to explore. Email us at RWyche@ATFMedical.com.