Occupational therapists use Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCE) to determine the current functional capability of an individual with regards to the ability to return to or being retained at work. Our expertise and experience in this area of practice is the reason why when Anne and Jain (Obair) wanted to develop a FCE training programme for the UK market. We approached Matheson and partnered with them to adapt their internationally renowned training to meet the unique needs of the UK market and have been offering training for the past 5 years+. No other FCE approach/system training has been specifically customised for the UK market.

UKFCE training underway.

UKFCE training underway.

In general terms, Matheson is an approach to FCE and is not an FCE system of which there are a number in use in the UK. Many of these FCE systems were developed by either a single practitioner or an organisation who developed their own tests, e.g. for lifting, for strength testing etc., or developed their own FCE equipment. These systems usually mean that you do their training and you have to use (and purchase) their tests or their equipment to do the FCE. The validity and reliability of many of these “own tests” have never been established and some, e.g. static strength testing used to measure manual handling capacity, is now well recognised as having no validity as a measure of manual handling capacity.

As an approach to FCE, the Matheson FCE differs from other FCE’s in: its ethos, its core elements, its core assessment tools, its evaluation protocols, in the evaluation training, in validity and reliability, in who can be trained etc.We thus decided to highlight some of the differences and the reasons for Obair endorsing the Matheson FCE.

Group discussing course material.

Group discussing course material.

The Matheson FCE:

Is an approach/ protocol and not a system: with Matheson, you learn how to do an FCE as well as how to administer and interpret the results of various standardised tests.

At its core it has a practice hierarchy: that places safety as its basis and includes: reliability, validity, practicality and utility and therefore the evaluator is assured that they keep the individual safe while still answering the referrer’s questions.

Is about training and producing thinking evaluators: and not practitioners who administer tests and use a computer to determine a score and thereby identify function, often in conjunction with producing a report with graphs and findings that can mean little to the referrer.

Has in excess of 19,000 trained Matheson FCE evaluators worldwide: so you are in very good company and there is a lot of international expertise available for new evaluators to tap into via Obair and the Matheson web site and resources.

Using a Jamar hand dynamometer.

Using a Jamar hand dynamometer.

Facilitates the evaluators’ continual professional development: once you have trained as a Matheson evaluator you have access to Matheson Evaluators’ group, which in turn allows you to access free Webinarsand current published research through the learning resources. Matheson also offers advanced training programmes.

Uses standardised tests whose validity and reliability has been determined and published in peer review journals: and there is no requirement to buy specific pieces of equipment or assessment tools as can be the case with FCE systems.

Offers an approach that can be customised: and Matheson evaluators, as thinking evaluators, can make use of any standardised test used in rehabilitation or medicine to determine function in all areas e.g. physical function, cognitive/perceptual function, mental health function.

Approach and software do not negate the clinical experience of the

evaluator: and cannot be carried out by a technician as it requires and relies on the expertise of the clinician.

Is the definitive FCE in a number of spheres in the US and Canada where Matheson FCE has been in use for 25 years+ and where the greatest number of evaluators are located.

Written by Anne Byrne (Clinical Director) & Jain Holmes (Training Director) September 2015

Obair’s Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) Credentials:

Anne: 37 years+ as an occupational therapist and 25 years working in vocational rehabilitation & occupational health in both

Demonstrating the use of FCE equipment.

Demonstrating the use of FCE equipment.

the UK and in Canada. Took her first FCE course in 1987 and has been using FCE in her practice since. Accredited in 2 FCE approaches/systems and has also completed post graduate training in 3 others.

Jain: 25 years+ as an occupational therapist and 15 years working in vocational rehabilitation and occupational health in the UK and the USA. Author of “Vocational Rehabilitation” and currently doing her PhD related to vocational rehabilitation. Accredited in 2 FCE approaches/systems and has also completed post graduate training in 3 others.

Between Anne & Jain, we are accredited in 4 different systems and have done post graduate training in 6 others. Therefore, at Obair we know a good FCE when we see one!