I still remember the moment I was on the phone to my Mum some 8 years ago when we were tossing around possible names for this new business. At the time I did not know that Purple Co was going to become the consulting service it is, nor did I understand the influence we would have. What Mum helped me to understand is that I loved people, and I really enjoyed helping people to reconnect to purpose. And so Purple Co was born: the Purpose for People Company.
(Many people think that Purple Co is about purple being my favourite colour, and while that is true, that’s not the origin of the name. It’s an amalgam of Purpose for People.)
One thing was really clear 8 years ago and remains clear today, is that I don’t want to be just another rehabilitation agency. I don’t want Purple Co customers, consultants or clients to have the expectation that rehab was same, same, same. I wanted to make sure that we flew in the face of cookie cutter rehab and were able to treat every client, every customer, and every treating health professional as the individuals that they are.
In 8 years we have:
- Served hundreds of clients and created some amazing results along the way
- Helped insurers build their knowledge and capability
- Trained up-and-coming professionals in the industry, helping to guide expectations of good rehab
- Created new programs to serve emerging client groups that haven’t had the customized services they have needed until now
I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on some of the shifts that I’ve seen and experienced in the last 8 years.
1. Rehabilitation in the Life Insurance sector: 20 years ago, receiving rehabilitation referrals to serve the Life Insurance industry were fairly rare. 8 years ago, they were becoming more frequent but there remained a lot of skepticism about the ROI that Rehabilitation could offer this sector of the market. There has been incredible growth as financial services providers see the undeniable link between health and capacity to earn. Purple Co started with the goal of serving this sector and we continue to have very strong links to insurers and re-insurers.
2. The Life Time Care and Support Authority commenced in 2006, , providing hope, opportunities and support for motor accident survivors. Purple Co has enjoyed being a vocational service provider of choice for LTCSA participants. Some of the most rewarding work we have been a part of has been assisting participants on this scheme return to work.
3. Post cancer survival rates have changed dramatically. It wasn’t that long ago that a diagnosis of cancer was akin to a death sentence. Today, we have clients who require specialized and unique assistance in managing the chronic health effects of their cancer treatment and learning to live with the effects of surviving cancer. We now see at least 68% of people who experience a cancer diagnosis still being alive 5 years post diagnosis , and we are proud to be able to support survivors living with post-cancer fatigue through our Fatigue Management Program.
4. Lifestyle diseases and chronic illness have become the leading cause of disability in Australia . The rise of chronic illness and disease has required new thinking about recovery at work and new ways of conceptualizing access to work for people who live with these conditions. We now need to consider lifetime management rather than “cure” and we have seen a shift from rehab prescription to a coaching and psycho-educational model of empowering clients to learn how to manage their condition into their future.
5. Rehab companies and professionals come and go. Like any business community, we see people move around the industry, we see people as well as companies come and go.
6. Rehabilitation professionals are building expertise in digital marketing, digital job seeking and helping clients makes sense of an unstable and changing labour market . If we are not keeping up with labour market and recruitment trends we are not helping our clients. Not only do we need to assess for English literacy and numeracy as a pathway to employment, today we also need to assess digital literacy and entrepreneurial literacy.
7. Legislation changes in various state based jurisdictions. I don’t think this statement needs any explanation, although I do think we have seen the rise of legislation changes having massive impact in other jurisdictions — much like throwing a pebble in a pond.
8. The rise of litigation and fall of litigation in some jurisdictions. Our clients continue to look for strong advocates in systems where they feel disempowered and unable to advocate for themselves. Rehabilitation Professionals have been learning to fill this gap in some ways – not necessarily as advocates of clients, but rather as advocates of good rehab and the benefits it brings to our clients.
9. Work being integral to wealth creation and health.  The paradigm has been shifting. No longer do we consider work to be the only thing required for wealth creation. Without health our work suffers, and if our work suffers then our ability to create wealth also suffers. Clients know this – even if they can’t articulate it. It’s often the foundation of their fear – what if I cannot earn again?
10. Returning to work can aid recovery and is therapeutic in itself.  The research is very clear: good work is good for our health. Work is not the end goal of recovery; work aides recovery.
Here’s to 8 incredible years of helping people get their lives back. Share with us in the comments below: what changes have you noticed since you started working in this industry?
Jo Muirhead is a Rehabilitation Counsellor with over 20 years of experience in vocational rehabilitation. She owns two successful businesses and is the Founder, Director and Principal Consultant of Purple Co, a team of specialist consultants that help people manage their illness, disability or injury and reclaim their lives through work.
References:https://www.lifetimecare.nsw.gov.au/lifetime-care-and-support-scheme/guidelines,-policies-and-legislation  http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/facts-and-figures.html  http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/chronic-disease  http://purpleco.com.au/lets-bring-job-seeking-into-the-21st-century/  https://maic.qld.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work-position-statement.pdf