These case studies will help explain how you might assess risk, manage your fitness to practise and ensure you continue to meet your HCPC standards
A range of different issues affect these assessments and the course of action taken in one case study may not be the appropriate one for you (even if your circumstances are similar to those outlined in the example). These case studies are illustrative: they should guide, rather than direct, the approach you should take.
Case study: mental health
Like your physical health, your mental health can change. Just like your physical health, it is possible to live with a serious condition, like bipolar disorder and, through the necessary steps, it is possible to manage your condition effectively and practise safely.
Last year a registrant was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, following a short period of poor mental health. She was not working at the time. Her condition is now managed with medication and she has returned to work. Her employers are aware.
The registrant has been seeing an appropriate healthcare professional who helps her manage her bipolar disorder. Through the advice of her medical professional and after conversations with her supervisor and with her colleagues, she knows that a trigger for her condition is extreme stress. Her employers have put in place several safeguards like allowing her to reduce her working hours and choosing the type of service users she sees to ensure that she is able to manage the level of stress associated with her role. Those working closely with her are also informed about her condition and the triggers.
She is unsure about whether she needs to disclose her health condition to the HCPC and if so, when she would need to do this.
She contacts her professional body and they advise her that she seems to be following appropriate healthcare advice, her employer is aware and has placed safeguards in place and that she appears to be appropriately managing her condition. Her professional body informed her that if she was still unsure whether or not she needed to make a declaration, then she should contact the HCPC.
If she is sure she can adapt, limit, or stop her practice as needed to remain safe and effective, then she does not need to inform the HCPC. When she was in poor health, she had stopped working and has only begun to work again as her health has improved and since managing her condition. She has been able to adapt her practice as needed in order to remain safe and effective.
If something changes and she can no longer practise safely, she will not be able to meet Standard 6.3 of her standards of conduct, performance and ethics and should inform the HCPC immediately.
Case study: injury
A health concern does not have to be permanent to impact your ability to practise safely. Likewise, not all permanent health concerns will negatively impact your ability to practise safely.
A recent graduate is applying for registration as a physiotherapist. She has badly broken her leg in a car accident in the last few months and has limited use of her left leg and cannot stand for long periods of time. Her mobility will be further reduced in the recovery period from a scheduled surgery on her leg which will take place in the next few months. After the period of rehabilitation, she is expected to make a full recovery.
While the applicant has limited use of her leg there are a number of ways that she could manage this condition. For example, she could work in a way that enabled her to not use her broken leg. She could triage patients via video calls from her own home, support with supervising more junior colleagues, or give service users advice about rehabilitation. If she is able to, another way to manage this condition is to not practise during this time. If she took time to rest and recover and was not interacting with service users, this is another type of management.
In either instance, so long as the health concern is being properly managed there is no reason for her to make a declaration.
Case study: degenerative illness
If you are living with a long-term illness, it can be difficult to know when you should declare it to the HCPC. This can be especially difficult when serious illnesses are diagnosed early on, often before the onset of serious symptoms.
Five years ago, a registrant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At that stage it did not affect his ability to practise safely, which meant he did not need to declare when renewing his registration shortly after. His symptoms have increased over time and he now has trouble sleeping, problems with memory and is experiencing anxiety. He has told his manager, but they are not able to change his practice. He is still working but it is getting more difficult to keep on top of things. He is about to renew his registration and is unsure if he should disclose the changes in his condition this time.
The answer is yes. Even if you have had a health condition since before your previous renewal, if the condition is beginning to affect your ability to practise and you are not sure how to, or are unable to, take the steps you need to remain safe and effective, you must declare this. As soon as you feel you cannot practise safely and effectively, you should declare this to the HCPC.
Case study: conviction
An individual has been registered with the HCPC as an Occupational Therapist for 5½ years. They are currently 6 months away from entering the profession’s renewal period. The registrant has recently been convicted for a drink-driving offence and as a result, received an 18-month driving ban. No other sanction has been issued by the police or court service.
An individual has been registered with the HCPC as an occupational therapist for five and a half years. They are currently six months away from entering the profession’s renewal period. The registrant has recently been convicted for a drink-driving offence and as a result, received an 18-month driving ban. No other sanction has been issued by the police or court service.
In this example the conviction has resulted in a significant change in the registrant’s character and therefore they are required to make an immediate self-referral to the HCPC.
The registrant should not wait for the renewal period to make a character declaration despite how close it is. This will ensure they comply with standard 9.5 of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics. Any delay in referring the matter, could in itself be a failure of the registrant in complying with the standards.