Vitality Care is VitalityHealth’s care support group. It includes doctors, nurses, and Vitality Care case managers who provide care support to over 3,500 members and their families every year. As head of Vitality Care for the past three-and-a-half years, Ella Cooper has witnessed firsthand the impact that Vitality Care has on the lives of members diagnosed with life-changing illnesses.
“We know how difficult it is to deal with a complex and life-threatening health condition such as cancer, so our job at Vitality Care is to help make our members’ treatment journeys as straightforward as possible,” she says. “When a member of the team is sent a handwritten note or a case of champagne to thank them for their support, I feel proud. It’s great to feel that I work for a company that really makes a difference to people’s lives at a time they need it most.”
What is Vitality Care?
VitalityHealth members with a diagnosis of serious illness will be referred to Vitality Care, which will review the claim and decide if it requires case management. The Vitality Care team of clinical and technical professionals support members who have health problems in three key areas: cancer, mental health, and longer-term or very serious illness. The aim is to provide support to members and their families, and to explain how their VitalityHealth plan and benefits can help them make choices about what care they have, and how they receive it. Vitality Care also ensures access to the very best experts and treatment possible for Vitality members.
“I found being with VitalityHealth was going to give me much more than I expected. My oncologist explained that Cancer Partners UK provide more targeted types of radiotherapy that would give me better results and fewer side effects.”
Joanne Vigurs, cancer survivor
“We offer a bespoke service to every member because everyone’s situation is unique,” explains Ella. “For example, we can discuss the option of receiving chemotherapy at home rather than in hospital. This helps if a member would prefer to be treated at home, or if it would make it easier for them to work throughout their treatment. We might suggest they receive an NHS cash benefit if their treatment could be delivered as effectively within the NHS.
Vitality Care treatment journey
- Referral to Vitality Care.
- Personal Care Consultant allocated to member.
- Introductory call to member; direct dial number provided for ongoing contact and support.
- Welcome pack and letter to member with information tailored to their condition.
- Case management – including consultant contact and liaison with treatment team – and benefits, plus advice on benefits.
- Links to other services, including Healthcare at Home, charities, Vitality GP.
- Referral to Customer Service Division at end of treatment for management of any ongoing follow-up care.
“People are naturally cautious about insurance companies but Vitality offers award-winning healthcare and we want to help our members receive the best service available,” says Ella.
“Members can speak to their Personal Care Consultant as they progress on their treatment journey. It’s important to us that we build a relationship of trust and honesty. For example, we do a lot of work behind the scenes, talking to the member’s treatment nurse or ward sister about their care, or liaising with their consultant about the next stage of their treatment, so the member knows what to expect next. We can direct a member towards information, and we provide added value through services such as oncology home visits from specialist cancer nurses, and even personal and domestic assistance to help with everyday tasks.”
Managing member expectations is essential. “Sometimes we have to tell a member that a treatment or service isn’t covered,” says Ella. “For example, our plans don’t cover chronic conditions. In that situation, we will always give them plenty of warning, so any costs are clearly signposted and the member can make alternative arrangements, as appropriate.”
The expertise and experience of the Vitality Care team is also crucial when it comes to making decisions about treatments. “One example is psychiatric care for eating disorders, which may require up to seven years of treatment,” says Ella.
“The parent of an adolescent suffering from an eating disorder may consider accessing private healthcare, rather than following up their GP’s referral to an eating disorder service via CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). While we will fund treatment within the terms of our plan, we would also explain to some members that the potential length of treatment required and the cap on their benefits may mean that NHS treatment may provide them with more stable, longer-term support.”
Caring about costs
Vitality Care protects the claims fund and member benefits by offering at-home and out-patient care, as well as hospital treatment; working with hospitals and care providers to prevent delays in treatment; invoice auditing to prevent overcharging by hospitals; having plan limits for certain treatments; and offering members NHS treatment plus cash benefits where appropriate. “Looking after costs is essential for providing the best care and value for all our members,” says Ella.
Vitality Care: supporting your clients
“Leading VitalityCare is a hugely rewarding job,” Ella says. “We are the company’s listening ear, supporting Vitality members and their families. During the toughest of times, members need to know that their insurance company is on their side. I’m proud to say VitalityCare is there for them.”