Happy Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

March 22 of each year is designated as a Happy Day to Celebrate Rehabilitation Counseling!   

A bouquet of pink roses, along with dark chocolate layer cake with vanilla bean ice cream help make the day turn even happier!

My career choice is Rehabilitation Counseling, a unique job for high-energy people who want to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  It’s also a challenging job that requires creativity and vision to see possibilities where others see only problems. 

Here’s a great brochure prepared by the Rehab Services Administration, Department of Education describing the profession, rehab jobs, and information you’ve always wanted to know!  It’s the source for some of the paragraphs in this post.

It seems when I reply that my master’s degree is in “Rehabilitation Counseling” often the person wants to know if that involves drugs and alcohol. The answer is no (although at times a case does involve an individual using some degree of drugs and alcohol in an unhealthy way). 

I explain to my listener that I chose a different path as a rehab counselor and provide consulting services on litigated cases involving work and disability.  Then I usually get a ‘oh that’s cool’ response and I continue the conversation, keeping in mind the context and scope of what I share about my work depends on the nature of the inquisition! (In other words, do I think the person asking really wants to know more about what I do or not?!) I definitely trust my intuition.

EnlighteningRehab Counseling is a High Energy Profession! 

In short, the goal of rehabilitation counseling is empowering people with (or even without) disabilities to make informed choices, build viable careers, and live more independently in their community.

Rehabilitation counseling trains professionals who will be dedicated to working with individuals with disabilities in order to help them achieve productive and independent lives. Just as other counseling tracks, rehabilitation counseling educational programs – in order to produce competent and certifiable professionals – are at the master’s level.

Drake University, School of Education, Des Moines, Iowa offers an excellent Council of Rehabilitation Education (CORE) accredited master’s level Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  This accreditation enables graduates of the program to become Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) sets the standard for quality rehabilitation counseling services in the United States and Canada.

Image result for spike drakes mascotDrake’s Mascot Spike with a Nice Bike!

Below’s another great bulldog picture. She has experience in Drake’s Beautiful Bulldog contest! Her name is Fat Amy. She owns Jeska Reese Dean, a family friend.

FatAmyFat Amy is Experienced!

I completed all required coursework at Drake University in the Master of Science in Counseling program. In addition, I took extra coursework focusing on job placement and mental health.

I was then eligible to take a national examination which I took on October 30, 2004, and upon passing, I earned the coveted CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) designation. Since then, I re-certify every five years which requites earning 100 hours of continuing education, 10 which must be in ethics.

For background purposes, there are two main sections of the CRC exam:  Counseling and Rehabilitation/Disability.  A statistical procedure called equating is used to ensure all examinees demonstrate the same level of ability in order to pass the exam. Here’s my results:

Counseling Section:

Amy E. Botkin’s Scaled Score:       598        

Passing Scaled Score:   500

&

Rehabilitation/Disability  Section:

Amy E. Botkin’s Scaled Score:       628            

Passing Scaled Score:   500

TaDa

Here’s a copy of my CRCC Certificate (I know it’s a bit blurry): I love my career and every day try my hardest to use my talents wisely!

Please let me know if you have questions about the profession, my education, or the professional  associations and groups I belong to. It may be a good career option for someone you know!

If your career is in law, please contact me at 515-778-0634 or by email at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to ask me questions regarding how my work helps attorneys help their clients!  BTW, when is Attorney Appreciation Day?

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Need A Good Report? Rebut No Matter What!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I was taught that vocational report writing is a very powerful form of communication and can influence the degree of success for the individual for whom it was written.  I love to communicate through the written word and have written many, many, reports! Blog posts too!

So this blog is to be sure you, my Attorney Reader, know I’m here to help critique and/or rebut a report that may cross your desk.  Image result for report

How many people do you know who really love to write reports? I do! It’s not that the report writing process is easy, it’s a challenge!!

Let me ask: Have you ever read (or tried to decipher) a vocational report that doesn’t make sense?  Is the report ambiguous and difficult to read? Does the person it was written for understand it? Do you understand it? Is it possible the report can be defended? Or should the report be ripped apart, piece by piece to get to its’ nuts and bolts? Need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m here to help!

Rebut No Matter What! 

Bull

This was my husband Randy’s Grandpa Cliff Yearington’s Bull. Cliff knew a lot about Bulls & Bulls*** too. 

Loosen, take apart and re-assemble that poorly prepared report. Will it fall apart or simple wobble on? A poorly prepared report stresses difficulties but doesn’t offer much information about solutions. It talks about weaknesses rather than strengths; deficits and negatives rather than pluses and positives. It seeks to make threats rather than suggest changes. It uses multiple words, unclear statistics, and a slick method to confuse rather than clarify.KeepitSimple

Simply, it’s not helpful to write an entire vocational report about how bad off the person is, especially without mentioning plans to help make a positive impact on the individual’s life.

I love to comb through reports and make all attempts to uncover what the contents say to the reader.  Just because it’s a report doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense! A report still needs to flow, tell a story, describe details and make valid and reasonable conclusions.

Here’s a sentence commonly found in reports from the same vocational person that I’ve been asked to rebut. [Keep in mind this long line comes after results of testing are provided within the report, but they are not explained at all!]

It is important to note that the purpose of all vocational testing done and reported here is to compare an individual’s current performance with their past performance as documented by their education, training, experience, and the standard worker trait factors associated with that history.

Say what? What does this run-on sentence mean?  The writer is using testing to compare performance? Did the evaluee’s past performance have anything to do with the testing administered? Did this person take the same tests throughout their work history? And then the paragraph continues…

 It is NOT correct to confuse an individual’s current test performance with performance in work prior to injury, as current performance is likely affected by the sequelae of disability.

Okay, now who is confused? The test taker? The person administering the test? I’ll tell you who….the reader!Related image The reader is easily confused by a poorly prepared report! 

Don’t be a confused reader! It’ll get you nowhere!

My initial question regarding this vocational report scenario, maybe helping to avoid confusion from the get go, is WHY were EACH of the specific testing instruments administered at all to this specific person? What is the rationalization for administration? The vocational person who wrote the report does not come close to answering these questions. To be ethically sound, administer testing only with a direct and relative reason to do so. 

I’ve written a professional report about my opinion on ethics and use of testing in vocational evaluations. Please contact me for a copy of the report. If you are my contact on LinkedIn, you’ll find it there readily available for now.

The underlying use of testing results to try to prove a person is permanently and totally disabled raises many ethical questions. Would you want that for yourself?

A test, really, a series of tests that I was forced to take, I didn’t understand, and simply put I didn’t want to take…those results determine my fate? Absolutely ridiculous! Results of testing are meant to assist a person for true and valid reasons…..not to paint a picture of “post injury residual vocational potential”

Image result for testing cartoon

Would you like to take ~ 10 tests in a single sitting?  Heck, No!

Without testing, evaluation is merely speculative

Really now? I’ve helped to place literally hundreds of people without administering testing! And many other placement people do too! If you understand the persons skills and match them with jobs in the local labor market, there’s a match!

Yes, of course I use certain standardized tests and self-assessments to help people when it is appropriate for reasons directly related to their placement goals, but that isn’t all I use during a vocational evaluation! I gather knowledge and assess many other areas involving work, interests, skills, aptitudes and lifestyle to help. I do not rely on only the use of test results!

Back to report writing, which is a very specialized skill; and I continuously study, practice and improve upon my own writing skills. As a professional writer, I never stop training! I think I gained natural talent from my Grandpa Jack, a journalist!

Image result for writing

When I’m writing, I get very absorbed! My office cat will testify to that!

Again, do you need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m Your Person to Help!

If your opinion on a case doesn’t mesh at all with the report on your desk, please contact me to help sort out the discrepancies. Keep in mind, I know opinions are just that, opinions.  And reports are meant to answer questions, not raise more!

I also want you to keep in mind that if you believe in the truth, there’s a way to show it. Contact me for expert testimony and witness services, too! Oh, and I definitely can rebut a life care plan (especially if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you!).

Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case and how I can help!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day ~ Thank Our City Workers!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A few years back, Des Moines Public Schools had planned to use Martin Luther King, Jr day as a snow make up day, but it was overturned by the school board based on good speaking and listening skills of many people. However since then, this Monday is not in session, not even virtually on this MLK Day 2021.

MLKDr. King  would be proud of the process involving our community and his holiday!

I also think he would appreciate students being in the classroom on the 3rd Monday in January learning and growing!  (What would students think of virtually learning back in the early 1960s??!!) The doctor obviously had a passion for education, as did his wife Coretta, and knew how important learning is at every age. I totally agree! Dr. King’s teachings continue to evolve throughout communities across our country. 

At the end of July of 2019, my husband and I visited the Martin Luther King National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. We found it to be a special place filled with thoughtful, soulful and educational experiences. 

You may know that on the evening before he was assassinated, Dr. King was preparing to lead a protest march to help support striking sanitation workers.  Dr. King was hard at work doing his job to help others do their hard jobs.

Green garbage truckThankfully, every Tuesday morning the garbage in my hood gets picked up!

Thank you to the city sanitation workers and thank you to the city street sweepers. I appreciate your work. Des Moines is a beautiful city filled with people who care about our community and I’m proud to live here.

Street sweeperI hear the sweeper on my street quite a few times throughout the year and rush to watch it pass by my house!

Thank you Dr. King for your call to service helping working people across the nation. I’m particularly fond of this quote:  

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Be the best you can be at what you do as an attorney. Let me know if you’d like my help to help you help your client on a case involving work and disability! I’ll strive to be of valued service to your case. Contact me at 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com  to learn more about each other and our work for others!

Thank you for reading my post and please be cognizant of what you throw away!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

A Job Analysis Would Help You Win a Prize!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Have you been to the Williamson Pumpkin Paradise? We visited on a beautiful October Sunday afternoon and I was in awe at the creative produce! After wandering around in the fields for a time and looking at plenty a pumpkin looking for a home, we selected one.

As I’m writing this, I realize I’m not knowledgeable about “how to pick the perfect pumpkin”! So, what I’d do, I did the research!  Indeed, I found out the fact is a pumpkin is a fruit! 

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Pumpkin seeds are nutritious and tasty!

I really like the sidebar from the publisher of a pumpkin site, it reads:

“I’ve always thought that we don’t choose pumpkins. They choose us! There is an unwritten magical connection when you find the perfect pumpkin.”

This is the pumpkin we selected, being one of my favorites, it made it home:

2015-10-26 17.10.27

Even though I am green, you can still carve me into a beautiful Jack O’Lantern!

What’d you think Randy paid for this pumpkin at a cost of .40 per pound?

Pumpkin Head Randy

What do you think it weighs? 10, 15, 25, 35, 40 pounds, what about 50?

Randy was probably not carrying this pumpkin as safely as he could (read: wheel barrows were available.)  

I lifted it and carried it in my arms as well for a time while walking through the field, gauging how much I thought it weighed. I was a little too high and I really couldn’t carry it for very long. The load was just not being carried correctly. Recommendation: Do a job analysis Amy!

2015-10-27 15.25.25This baby was much easier to manually handle!

Guess the correct weight of the green one and you’ll win a prize (a free consultation or maybe something just as valuable!)

Answer to be made available on Halloween! … continue to read on about another Randy (yea, not my husband – the KC fan above with the pumpkin head) … who just called me!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Hello Attorney, I’m Here to Help Your Client With Shoulder Injury!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

At the beginning of the year 2017, my left rotator cuff was injured during a combination of physical activity, but I’m not sure how it happened.  Being the type of person who always wants to, no, needs to have answers!, I just had to go with the fact that I hurt!

It took a long time for my shoulder to heal and during that time, my physical and mental capacity were diminished. So in that way, I can empathize with what a person with a shoulder injury experiences. 

The first six months are critical to any injured body part that wants to heal. Proper care, nutrition, stretching, exercise and relaxation are essential components of rehabilitation.  A “don’t give up attitude” is too. I can relate to the limited movement, the pain, and the frustration from my rotator cuff injury!

Nice Biceps!

What’s good is that my shoulder (arms and entire core for that matter!) are much stronger than before because, well simply put, I care about my shoulders and exercise with purpose so they can work hard for me! 

I was offline for maintenance, but I came back stronger than ever!

Remind your clients of the fact that they’re your only shoulders, and if there’s injury, encourage them to do everything possible allowing the healing process to do the work.  If you want a vocational rehabilitation consultant on your side, contact me! If you have a lawsuit that needs to draw attention to the costs of the injury, contact me!

Practicing yoga, or focused stretching and faithfully paying attention to what your body is saying is incredibly valuable during any healing process. If an injury becomes chronic and a decision to perform surgery is made, physical rehabilitation is paramount. 

Rehabilitation also includes body and mind. Speaking of mind, I am grateful to hear of the change in the Iowa workers’ compensation law to provide workers who have a serious shoulder injury and can no longer return to their existing job with vocational rehabilitation benefits.

After July 1, 2017, if in the workers’ compensation system for a shoulder injury, the individual may receive career vocational training at a local community college…and we have good ones here in Iowa!  The employer or the employer’s insurer is required to pay financial support for participation in the program up to $15,000 for tuition, fees, and required supplies. I have plenty of experience helping Veterans return to school and commence with a new career when I had a contract with the VA to provide vocational rehabilitation services.

Also in January 2017,  I worked with a vocational rehabilitation client, Gerald. He had a serious rotator cuff injury with multiple shoulder surgeries and wasn’t expected to be able to return to his job as a roofer. I met with him and performed a vocational evaluation. He expressed interest in work as a heavy machine operator, so upon research and contact with local resources, I prepared an in-depth report to support our findings to help him move into a new career. Please let me know if you have a need on a case involving a shoulder injury as this information is fresh!

Gerald the Cat…Studious, Quick, Very Orange & Very Cool!

In 2018, I was assigned two interesting shoulder injury cases (one involved a dentist, the other a truck trailer unloader/consolidator) and I learned a lot about  surgical options, costs of care and vocational outcomes. I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned if it’d benefit your client!

Please let me know if you have a need for a vocational expert like me to help you help your client.  Just FYI: a few years back, my sister Julie experienced a bad elbow injury when she tripped and fell at work, which required elbow replacement surgery. I learned about elbow procedures and rehabilitation while helping her!

Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon! BTW, I enjoy using cool cats to support my work!  Contact me at 515-778-0634 to discuss your case, or email me at   amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com and let me know the best time to contact you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Happy 19th Anniversary Vocational Resources Plus

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Vocational Resources Plus LLC Celebrates the beginning of 19 years in business!

September is a special month for me. My birthday is on September 15 and I started my own business on September 15…back in 1963 and 1999 respectively!

Please read on for information on Vocational Resources Plus LLC. I offer life care planning as well!Vocational Resources Plus LLC offers an array of vocational rehabilitation services with a focus on placement.

Vocational rehabilitation is a set of services designed to facilitate the return to work process (also known as placement) for individuals following a serious accident or illness that disrupted employment.

Placement is the bottom line of vocational rehabilitation, and therefore is the most in demand service.  Placement can be simply defined as finding suitable employment. Continue to read on for more detail on Vocational Resources Plus LLC’s placement services and procedures.Vocational Resources Plus LLC designs unique placement services to return-to-work problems that arise on workers’ compensation, personal injury and disability cases.

The objective of each placement assignment is to research key details on an individual’s employability. This information provides the base to plan for courses of action. Action is presented in the form of service delivery, case management, and reporting services, or whatever is needed to bring facts on board.

The goal of each service is to identify strategies that are proven to achieve positive employment related results. The objectives set forth in a service plan will effectively place the person back into his or her working world.  This ‘pathway to work’ expedites resolution, details the scope of occupational loss, and ultimately addresses the monetary figure of claim that is in litigation.~Vocational Resources Plus LLC offers comprehensive placement services to address labor market conditions, workforce issues, and attributes of specific occupations. The value of designing a service specifically based on the individual’s personal background, work history, transferable skills, knowledge and abilities, coupled with his or her interests, aptitudes, personality factors along with various vocational and physical attributes is higher than the actual cost of providing the service.

The case is covered carefully while the individual and all representatives associated with the claim are provided with specific details of the situation to better understand the priorities of successful rehabilitation. All services are documented and a narrative report is useful to evaluate the claimant’s rehabilitation potential, to determine the extent of loss of job, or pay, or of employability.

Specific details on level of cooperation to secure employment, worker qualifications compared to existing employment opportunities, and compliance regarding recommended therapeutic intervention or physical exercise are a few examples that are assessed for the individual to adjust to their situation.Vocational Resources Plus is often called upon to help when a case is in litigation or has the potential to become overly problematic and costly. Referrals are welcomed from attorneys and employers!  The strategy of assigning your difficult cases to a knowledgeable consultant saves time and reduces long-term effects of any claim.  I’m here to help!

MISSION STATEMENT

~ Vocational Resources Plus LLC commits to helping with the needs of its clientele by providing consulting services that exceed the standards of practice expected in the field of vocational rehabilitation.

 COMPREHENSIVE JOB PLACEMENT OFFERED THROUGH 

Vocational Resources Plus LLC

Job placement is a professional procedure. The purpose is to assist the job seeker to find a job matching his or her knowledge base, skill sets, abilities, work capacities, interests and aptitudes, as well as needs for location, work scheduling, level of earnings, benefits, plus more!

Comprehensive placement on average can take 4 weeks – 6 months (based on available employment opportunities and client cooperation). Placement is broken down into 3 phases: Information Gathering, Accessing the Labor Market and Placement. Other services such as Job Seeking Skills Training, Vocational Counseling, and Outsourcing are available on an as needed, individualized basis.

Within the first few weeks of placement, the placement specialist may be able to discern if success at obtaining employment is likely or not. All case activities, research and results of efforts are reported. Expert testimony is available.

Phase I ~ Information Gathering

This phase is time intensive and involves meeting the client, orientation, paperwork, appraisal of qualifications and transferable skills, and participating in other preliminary processes. The individual’s skill set is matched with existing employment opportunities. Resumes are prepared, reference building is performed, specific, information details are gathered and goals are set.

Timeframe: 1-3 weeks. The placement specialist can spend from 10-15 hours per week on preliminary processes. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

Phase II ~ Accessing the Labor Market

This phase involves designing a flexible marketing strategy to assist the client in establishing informational interviews and job interviews. Results are evaluated to help make decisions and to clarify career choices. It involves identifying and contacting businesses in appropriate markets and industries to assist with finding adequate profiles of persons to meet marketing needs and job opening requirements.

Timeframe: Commonly starts in the 3rd week and continues as long as feasible opportunities are identified, up to approximately the 6th week. The placement specialist averages 5-10 hours per week. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

 Phase III – Placement

When the client has sufficient opportunities available and is cooperative with placement procedures, this phase unfolds. When the client is placed, follow-up occurs at appropriate increments. If the client is uncooperative or if excessive barriers do not allow for a successful transition into the workforce, other Vocational Resources Plus, LLC services are available or referrals can be made.

Timeframe: Starts at approximately 3 or 4 weeks into the assignment, depending on the client’s situation and continues until placement occurs. A minimum of one month of post-placement services are offered. The placement specialist averages 1-5 hours a week. The placement client spends as much time as necessary to support this phase.

Thanks for reading….now give me a call!  There’s a sample employment packet the client receives, it’s located to the right on my website. Take a look around at all the resources available! I have even more to share!

515-282-7753 or email VocResources@msn.com

    lcpresourcesplus.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Felix…One Cool Cat!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I miss my Felix. He had to be euthanized late afternoon on Friday, September 11, 2015. He was not eating and had lost way too much weight. It was so sad and I felt so bad that I couldn’t help him other than loving him and petting him. Dr. Michael Forret, our outstanding vet since 1994, diagnosed Felix with a stomach tumor. Felix didn’t have a temperature and his vitals were okay, indicating thank goodness that he wasn’t in too much pain.

Feef

 A lasting memory of Felix & Me

Felix showed up in our neighbor’s garden in June 2002. Jacob heard meowing and checked it out, bringing a completely black fluff ball back with him. I remember the first night….just holding this black kitten out in the garage. Most of his life he pretty much was a garage/outdoor cat, but certainly loved coming inside and hanging out in the mondo, sleeping on the futon, or just chillin’ wherever suited his liking!

2013-12-31 13.18.23Fluff Man. At his glory he weighed over 15 pounds, all claws and one incredible meow!

I heard once that good cats get petted as much as they want in heaven. They get whatever they loved here on earth at their pawtips! Felix had a great life and yes, he had his share of injuries (eg: broken paw, chipped ear, gouges from jumping a fence) and vet procedures (eg: front incisor had to be removed). He always smelled like he was wearing leather and had recently been at a (smoke-free) bar.

He had a beautiful wart under his left eye. He was downright cool.

God I miss him. Pets are so important to people’s lives. I keep on thinking I see him out in the backyard, or under the house where he had a special spot to sleep.

I will never forget the sound of his meow. Or how he would bump your arm just enough so more cat food would land in his bowl (he taught that to our white cat Alaska). Oh, and he taught our dog Bella how to jump the backyard chain link gate (booh).

Felix was also known by me as cafe’ kitty, as he would lay non-chalantly on the curb of our driveway with one paw either crossed or draped over the edge. And when one of us would make the drive up our driveway, we’d have to go very slow because Felix was leading us up (like a sheep dog) and at times he would just plop down in front of the car. You simply had to stop. Silly cat.

I also remember one time many, many moons ago…when Felix was missing for 10 days. I thought he was gone for good…and prayed he wasn’t. But returning from church one early, crispy cold winter morning (back over 10-11 years ago when we celebrated Mass at St. Ambrose), there he was down the street. I yelled to Randy, stop the car! Then opened the door and ran through the snow to him, picked him up and hugged him sooo long, then carried him home.

For the next 10 days solid following the “rescue” he slept with me at night, snuggling right up. We figured he was stuck in someone’s garage as he had gotten really thin. Then Fluff Man returned to his normal acting feline nature and back to his hunting escapades (oh the critters he brought and left right outside the back door…)!

Image result for black cat with green eyes cartoon in heaven

I love you Felix, AKA Fluff Man and am heart broken.

One way to say I love you to a cat is to gaze into their eyes and slowly close your own! I love you!

Our neighbors liked Felix all and all, and people would comment how huge he was! I know Felix’s feline sisters Samantha Josephine (who also came into my life in March 2002 as an Aqualand store bought from the kitty window) and Alaska (who also showed up…followed Jacob down the street) back in 2012 misses you too. Cats that are “a find” are the best!

Jacob got a tattoo of Felix based on his drawing. Maybe I should get a tattoo, too, someday? (More likely a henna one!)

Image result for black cat with green eyes cartoon in heaven

“Righty-O” Felix the Cat, the Wonderful, Wonderful  Cat….Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!

Take time to love your pets, unconditional love is all they know! Prrrrrrr. Here’s a link to a post titled People and Their Pets…Got Cat? where I write about vocational assessment and psycho-social factors, such as pet ownership. Thank you for reading and stop and pet your pet!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Life Care Planning Helps Attorneys in Ways & in All Phases of Litigation! Really!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you considered a Life Care Plan as part of your litigation strategy to help your client?

Life Care Planning helps attorneys in many ways and in all phases of litigation. The actual plan itself becomes a comprehensive document that provides for the future care and associated costs of a person facing a serious illness or injury.

In earlier phases of litigation, a life care plan helps evaluate the potential value of a case. During settlement negotiations, a life care plan helps identify monetary ranges. And of course during trial a life care planner can be critical to your litigation success!

Life Care Planning Services Help Attorneys in Many Ways, Here’s A Few:

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  • Project future cost of care ~ When someone has sustained a life altering injury, trying to determine the correct and fair amount for a settlement is a daunting task. It’s difficult to properly analyze all aspects of an injured party’s condition.
  • A professional life care planner (one qualified as I am!!) can help you assess the current needs of a patient and project future complications with a systematic approach to analyzing the injured party’s current and future conditions.
  • After analyzing all injury-related documents, interviewing the injured party and communicating with medical professionals, the life care planner will produce a plan that considers future costs in order to ensure a fair and reasonable quality of life. The plan will consider financial, physical, and psychological factors. In the end, you’ll have a thoroughly researched document that will prove bulletproof at settlement conferences and in the courtroom.

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  • Consider likely complications ~ When it comes to catastrophic injuries and long term illnesses, you have to expect the unexpected. Almost undoubtedly, complications will arise in association with the life-altering events somewhere down the road. With that in mind, an experienced life care planner will identify the most likely future complications, allowing all parties involved to understand and adequately provide for these unforeseen circumstances.Related image

  • Expert Testimony * ~ An experienced life care planner provides crystal-clear medical testimony for depositions and trial. Life care planners can accurately and simply describe the injured person’s lifetime of needs and justify the associated costs. 
  • Able to be customized ~ Not all cases require a full-blown life care plan. However, that doesn’t mean a life care planner can’t help you. The injury or illness doesn’t necessarily have to be catastrophic in order to benefit from future care cost projections. Versatile life care planners offer abbreviated plans for these special situations that allow you to evaluate case value and strategize early on.

Image result for fence cartoon

  • Establishes a level playing field ~ Regardless of what side of the fence you stand on, you can benefit from hiring a professional for life care planning services. A life care plan helps all parties know what to expect and thus helps settlements be reached more quickly. A life care planner can aid in strategizing to ensure the best possible outcome. It’s not just a time-saver. It’s a tool that gives you the key insight of one with an understanding of medical needs and the associated costs.

If you represent someone who has suffered a serious injury or illness, or a defendant accused of being responsible for an injury, consider obtaining a life care plan. Doing so will allow you to understand the future care needs of the affected party, which will result in a speedy, fair settlement.

Source for above written article (with some creative writing and clip art by me) : http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/benefits-of-life-care-planning-in-all-phases-of-litigation-3466273.html  Oct 13, 2010 • By Nancy Fraser

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*As a Vocational Expert, I am also qualified to testify on the injured person’s work life and earning capacity.

Contact me, Amy E. Botkin at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com or at 515-778-0634 to discuss how a life care plan can help you to help your client. 

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Using Vocational Rehab Experts and Life Care Planners to Prove General Damages

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This is a great article by quite a super lawyer from what I’ve read, based out of Santa Monica CA. Please read on with the source at the end!

Using Vocational Rehab Experts and Life-Care Planners to Prove General Damages by Geoffrey S. Wells

The use of a vocational rehabilitation expert and a life-care planning expert is even more important today than it has been in the past. This is due in part to the jury’s overall skepticism on general damage awards. It is not uncommon today to hear a juror during jury selection say something to the effect that “I have no problem awarding damages that are actually provable, such as lost wages or medical costs in the past and the future, but I have a real problem with pain and suffering damages.” The plaintiff lawyer’s ability therefore to provide actual economic numbers for the jurors is more important today than it has ever been in the past.

Vocational rehabilitation. The use of a vocational rehabilitation expert should be implemented anytime your clients have permanent injuries that either impair their ability to do their old jobs or impair their ability to do any job. One of the most important aspects of a good vocational rehabilitation plan is assessing the loss of earning capacity. The loss of earning capacity is not just the loss of a particular job, but it is the inability to be able to earn what a person would have been capable of earning had he or she never been hurt. Many defense lawyers gloss over the lost earning capacity component of the vocational rehabilitation plan. I think it is very important that the jury understands through the testimony of your expert the whole issue of lost earning capacity.

Assessing lost earnings where a person can no longer work is easy, and I am not going to discuss it in this article. The difficult part of assessing lost earnings comes into play when your client can do some things, but not other things. Additionally, the real issue comes into play when the defense argues, through their defense vocational rehabilitation expert, that your client actually can earn more money post-accident than they would have earned if the accident had not happened at all. Once you get past the emotional frustration of having to address this argument, you need to have a game plan on how to attack it.

I am going to use a specific case example where you have a client who has average to above-average intelligence and who has been working in some type of physical job such as construction his or her whole life. Post-accident, the client can no longer do physical work. The defense vocational rehabilitation expert does testing. The results of that testing show that the individual can now work as a computer programmer and is going to be the next Bill Gates, earning two or three times as much as he or she did doing construction. How do you handle this argument? The answer – it depends on the client.

I represented a cement finisher who worked in the construction industry doing everything from parking lots to the Staples Center. He suffered a bad fall and received debilitating injuries to both of his ankles and legs in the fall. The defense vocational rehabilitation expert had him becoming a computer programmer in an office, earning two times as much money as he ever did as a cement finisher. The problem with the defense assessment is that no one ever asked the client how he felt about working in an office behind a desk all day. I asked him, and he told me he would rather jump off a bridge than be locked up in a building all day. He told me that he had been in construction his whole life and that he loved being a cement finisher. He considered himself an artist and showed me pictures of all the different structures around Los Angeles that he had worked on. These included the Staples Center, among others. He told me he would never last in an office behind a desk.

In response to this defense assessment, I had my vocational rehabilitation expert assess the psychological component of the job market placement options for my client. My expert agreed that there was no way my client would ever be an office guy, and he explained this in his report. Many jurors who work with their hands outdoors completely understand the whole psychological component of the job market placement.

When discussing damages for lost earning capacity, I think it is important to make the case that your client is not just some statistic, but that he or she is unique and that any assessment must take into consideration the individual’s life and life experiences. In the case of the cement finisher, my vocational rehabilitation expert assessed him as someone who had the ability to be a foreman. The problem was that whenever there is a job being poured and something goes wrong, the foreman must have the experience and ability to get into the cement and help out. Since he was unable to do this, it was obvious that he would be unable to ever work in that area again. This substantially increased his lost earnings and lost earning capacity numbers in the case.

Many variations of the above-depicted scenario can be used in your cases. One of the important components to consider is that before your client is examined and tested by your own vocational rehabilitation expert, that you meet with the client and get a feel for him or her and the person’s life experience so that you understand those components before he or she is tested. Then, share your thoughts with your vocational rehabilitation expert.

Life-care planning. Another area of economic damages is the area of the cost for future medical care or what is known as life-care planning. In order to provide an assessment for life-care planning, you need to hire a life-care planner. The life-care planner helps determine the lifetime needs and costs of care for the chronically or catastrophically injured person. The life-care plan incorporates a complete approach to depicting the client’s medical, psychiatric, psychological, behavioral, educational, vocational and social needs. The life-care plan also incorporates the individual’s recovery process as well as his or her current problems, and future problems that may be inherent with a particular disability. The life-care plan serves as a guide for the client’s treating physicians and family members who will be involved with the client’s care for the rest of his or her life.

One of the key components of any life-care plan is that it is geared towards preventative medicine that will help minimize any deterioration of the client’s individual condition. A well thought-out life-care plan provides scientific and credible evidence to depict future medical needs of the client in the given case.

The key basis for any life-care plan is that your life-care planning expert be provided with all of your client’s medical records, reports, tests etc. Additionally, I think it is even more important now that your life-care planner also have the opportunity to review all the treating doctor depositions, as well as your client’s deposition. Additionally, where possible, you should make arrangements for your life-care planning expert to have discussions with and get approval from your client’s treating doctors as to the proposed life-care plan.

The areas of cross examination by the defense on any lifecare plan focus in on the fact that the lifecare planner did not discuss any of the proposed plan items with any of the plaintiff’s treating doctors. You should take this away from the defense by setting up or requesting that your life-care planner discuss the plan with the treating doctors. It is important to get the treating doctors’ blessings to am of the life-care plan areas that pertain to the specific speciality of the treating doctors. Additionally, if you list your treating doctors as non-retained experts in your expert designation, you can call them at trial and have them confirm the need for portions of the life-care plan.

Another area for cross-examination by the defense is always the area that is the biggest ticket item, which is the attendant or level of nursing care required by your client. I think it is very important to get the treating physicians on board early with your life-care planner as to the necessity of the attendant care and the type of care that is required. There is at least one defense expert out there in the market now who claims under oath that the level of care does not matter with respect to life expectancy from a statistical standpoint. If you have a severely or catastrophically injured client, one of the areas the defense will attempt to attack is the life expectancy of your client.

This is particularly true where you have a client who has either a gastrointestinal tube and/or tracheotomy requirement. In order to try to rebut the shortened life expectancy with the presence of these items, I think it is a good idea to get the treating doctors on board as to their opinions regarding life expectancy with good care. You want to make your client more than just some statistic – you want to show that your client with good care can live a long time, thereby necessitating long-term, good care.

After the life-care planner prepares a detailed matrix of all the various items required, you want to be sure that both the life-care planner and any treating doctors agree that the likelihood that your client will need these items is at least 5 1 percent probability; i.e., the same as reasonably medically probable.” Many times the defense will get an unsuspecting treating doctor to say that certain items on your life-care plan are only possible, as opposed to reasonably medically probable. I would suggest that you want to avert this trap laid by the defense by meeting with the doctors ahead of time and explaining to them the difference legally between something that is possible and something that is medically probable. These opinions can make the difference between getting a poor recovery and a great recovery for your client.

Source:  November 26, 2007    The Advocate Magazine (CAALA)       http://workinjury.com/articles/d-549.htm [This article is reprinted, with permission, from The Advocate Magazine, Volume 34, Number 11, a monthly publication of the Journal of Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles.]  [Although dealing with jury trials and civil litigation, it is quite relevant to third-party workers’ compensation claims, as well as understanding how useful these experts can be in general.]

Red PoppyThank you for reading, now please call me, Amy E. Botkin at 515-778-0634. I’m well-trained in voc rehab and in life care planning, and completely ready to help you help your client!

I’m based out of Des Moines, IA; just as gorgeous a place as any!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Need Help in Telling Your Client’s Story? Here’s One About Bowling & Rehabilitation!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

My husband Randy had his cardiology checkup clearing him to see the doctor every two years now. Thankfully he only had to make visits for a little over three years following his cardioversion and rehabilitation.  

As you may know, anytime work is done on any electrical system there’s a chance something could go awry. Keep track of your system(s) to lessen that chance. Here’s a personal health story which all began with bowling.

2015-01-23 Botkin Bowling Ball

Botkin’s Black Ebonite Bowling Bowl 

I was on a business trip in Mason City, Iowa, providing vocational rehabilitation services to U.S. military veterans with my favorite chauffeur Mr. Botkin during the summer of 2013. On the way out of town we stopped at the Rose Bowl for a little entertainment. There’s a tendency to drive around even hundreds of miles with our bowling balls and yes, safely in the trunk. Ya never know when the mood to bowl strikes!

Randy’s bowling style stirs up quite a racket, especially when his ball wipes out all 10 pins! His posture at the end of his follow through looks like he’s ‘a hoppin’ on one foot ballerina! Along with the noise that emits from his vocal cords and Botkin embroidered on his shirt above his heart, he’s a down right bowling man!

Steerike!Steeerike!

10 pinsI’m more of a slow and steady bowler, aiming for good form, keeping the ball lined up with the directional arrows (the concept similar to how I prefer to golf too) and hope for that distinct feel knowing next will be noise of scattering pins! 

I’ll take any knocked down! I want to let you know one of my dad’s first jobs as a youth was a bowling pin setter in the times before automation in the alley! 

On this summer day Randy and I bowled a couple games and enjoyed the time! I don’t remember scores, and don’t care! Okay, fine I’m sure his score was better than mine.

A few days after the trip, Randy’s neck was tilted. Questions about how he felt and the reason as to why the askew head revealed no valid answer and no comprehension he was even guarding his head. Then came complaints of “feeling out of wack.”

I took his pulse and ahhh…, felt gaps of time before the next beat, and those beats I could feel were not the same strength.  I swear his heart was skipping a beat (and not because he is sooo in love with me), and realized his timing was off (literally)! Randy made a visit to our family doctor who referred him to a specialist. Low and behold came the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation.

Randy went through several tests and was placed on Warfarin with INRs regularly taken. Nutritionally, he had to avoid sources of vitamin K (and I love blueberries and kale!), take good care of his health and not miss any medical appointments!

This is just like my dad, who has chronic AFib. They shared stories about their health. How’s your INR? Pretty darn good, what about you? Well, I could lower it a point or two…! My dad actually does his own INR testing.

Related imageKale, A Superfood!

Dad “can’t eat” kale, but Randy sure missed eating kale, and loves it now (not true!) Back to the summer of the “heart scare”, I remember Randy wearing a holter monitor strapped to his chest. The day it went off with a loud bang (not true either!) we were at an outdoor wedding (very true! and it was hot too)!

It was determined Randy would need to have a heart restart. OMG. He had a cardioversion procedure performed on September 20, 2013. I will never forget waiting and waiting patiently for the patient at Iowa Lutheran Hospital trying to read but not being able to focus on the words in front of me. Finally the nurse came out (the procedure really wasn’t that long) and said I could see him. I couldn’t wait any longer!

I quickly entered the procedure room and saw Randy lying on the table groggily repeating “Did she do it?” “Did she do it?” Dr. Clark, replied, “What are you talking about?” Randy muttered again with some sort of humor (funny man) in his voice, “Did she push the button?”

button

No I did not push that button. But if he continues to make fun of my bowling posture…and my scores…I might reconsider...

The bottom line of this blog is to be sure to pay attention to signs and symptoms of your health and listen to your body.  People’s bodies do a good share of expressing to its’ owner it’s need and desire to be in balance.  

When your body is out of balance, it will tell you and people who care will notice. Listen to it. Listen to others. Do what you need to do to restore your sense of balance. I can offer recommendations!

Thankfully the cardioversion worked and Randy’s been back in the rhythm ever since. There’s no rhyme nor reason why his heart decided to act up. Frankly, I love to check Randy’s pulse and his heart is really strong!

He brags remarking his blood pressure is perfect (a quote from the nurse!) The beater is good to go for a long, long time! Rehabilitation was successful! (Ahhh, update, Randy had another cardiac scare in November of 2017.)

I could also blog about my son Nick and his blood pressure problems (thankfully much improved; he’s on long-term medication); and my mom’s blood pressure health which is good but needs watching.

Or I could blog about Randy’s dad’s serious heart condition (which ultimately took his life while asleep in 2005). But instead I’m going to end with saying to my readers including my husband of course!,  “I love you with all my writing heart. Please take great care of  your systems and yourself!”

Pistachios

Eating Tip of the Day: Pistachios are Heart Healthy

Let me know what I might do to help with educating your client; or better yet, let me educate others about your client by writing his or her story!

I love to help with litigation regarding work and disability and know it’s incredibly helpful to tell your client’s story in a meaningful and truthful way. I also believe in exercising, eating right and balancing! Give me a call at 515-282-7753 and let’s discuss your case. I offer free initial consultation!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.