It’s been a bit of a ride in the past 6 weeks or so as we learn how to work in different ways; manage forced change and be confronted by the competing demands in our life.
Is it any wonder that we feel a little off kilter?
And while its a normal human reaction to want to wait for everything to return to “normal” I’m not convinced that is going to happen. I think if we are honest there are things that have come out of COVID-19 environment that we want to take with us into the post COVID-19 world.
Something that we at Purple Co have needed to discuss with clients and customers over these past few weeks, is that rehabilitation strategies and activities don’t need to stop.
In fact, stopping them to wait until this COVID crises is over is going to be counterproductive.
People who are currently recovering from an injury or illness need to be in the best position they can be in to apply for work when the job market opens again. If we wait until the job market opens we will have a HUGE pressure to get people into jobs who don’t have the coping skills (physical or emotional) to deal with being back at work.
Here are 5 things we are doing with people who are recovering, rehabilitating, and waiting for work to become available
- Ensure that all treatment is ongoing and being done.
This might mean that we need to help our client’s and their treatment providers be creative about how this is done. Yes, we have tele health, but do our clients know how to access it? Do they have a place in their home they can do their treatment that is comfortable and conducive to treatment? Is their treatment provider helping them to think and plan how to do their “homework” outside of scheduled therapy time?
Being at work provides people who are recovering the opportunity to engage in physical activity, psychological activity, and emotional activity. Often, we are practicing therapy techniques in our workday, and then we have something very concrete to talk about or share during our scheduled session with treatment providers.
One of the roles Rehabilitation Professionals can play at this time is to work with client’s on how to integrate their therapy practice into their COVID-19 lifestyle.
- Clients might appear like they are “regressing”.
We have experienced so much change in recent weeks. A lot of this has been forced upon us. For a person recovering from an injury, or an illness, forced changed is often a constant reminder of what they have lost.
We have all struggled in some way to make sense of the new rules that have been forced upon us. For people who are already ill, or recovering, their sense of their own health vulnerability becomes incredibly heightened (I know this, I am living this experience myself and it is terribly confronting)
We can’t expect that this COVID-19 situation hasn’t affected our client’s and their experience of recovery. To assume that everything will be progress as normal is rather arrogant and incredibly unhelpful Clients need to feel heard and understood. Everyone is scared. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about what new fears now exist for you?
The types of statements that help us to know our clients need to revisit some of their own attitudes and beliefs around their illness or injury are statements like:
- Why bother trying to get any better, there won’t be any jobs left for me.
- Who would want me any way when there are people without this <insert diagnosis here> competing with me for work?
- I am damaged goods I’ll just stay on benefits because at least I know its secure.
The longer we leave these attitudes and beliefs unaddressed the more entrenched they become and the more difficult it is to help client’s make the kinds of progress we know they can make. Let us help them by addressing these issues BEFORE they become entrenched.
- Plan for the changes that working will bring, now.
One of the reasons that a sustainable return to work fails, is that Rehabilitation Professionals don’t spend the time working with clients to plan for the changes that returning to work will bring.
- changes to routine
- changes to pain levels
- changes to energy levels
- changes to finances
- changes to relationship dynamics
- changes to transport
When we help people prepare for the changes that work will bring we are truly adopting a BioPsychoSocial framework of recovery.
One of the most effective ways we at Purple Co know to help people prepare for change is to help them work with their personal strengths of resiliency. This is the foundation of the Purpose for People program.
And we know it works regardless of age, injury, social economic background, education and insurance status.
- Become job market ready
Having the physical or psychological capacity to do a job is not the same as having the knowledge, skills and capabilities to apply for and win a job vacancy.
People who are recovering may not be able to return to a job that they had prior to injury/ illness because that job may not exist in a Post COVID-19 Australian job market.
It is important that we have these discussions with client’s and help them identify and acknowledge their own transferable skills so that they are empowered to take advantage of the labour market demands that arise as the nation opens up.
Then we can prepare them with some online training; interview skills development, and in developing their job search marketing collateral.
An example of a fantastic resource I have found to help people wanting to gain a Sales role is the Get Hired Package ( $199 AUD) being offered by The Sales recruiter.
- Rehabilitation Professionals – its everyone’s job to know the job market
The job market – meaning, what job vacancies will exist – needs to become a core knowledge base for all Rehabilitation Professionals. Not just the purview of Rehabilitation Counsellors.
We all have a role to play in being curious about what jobs will become available, and then how to help our client’s navigate any potential changes to their expressed job goals.
This means that we as Rehabilitation Professionals need to be increasingly aware of where job vacancies will be and exploring ways to mitigate any skills or knowledge gaps that our client’s might have. If we are utterly convinced that good work is good for our health, then we need to be able to help our client’s think about where that work might exist.
This knowledge of the job market appears to be sorely lacking of a lot of Rehabilitation Professionals, and now is a perfect time for all of us to learn how to read the job market so that we can prepare and empower our clients.
While we continue to face a lot of uncertainty, one of the best ways we can help people is empower them to become skilled and build their resilience in managing the effects of uncertainty and change in their life. Now is not the time to adopt a wait and see approach to recovery, rehabilitation and return to work.
Now is the time to say what do we need to do to become the best positioned to take advantage of the changes that come up next in the world of work.
Until next time
Here’s to making work work well