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Access to Work

MONEY AND SERVICES TO HELP DISABLED PEOPLE RETURN TO WORK

Returning to work after limb loss is an essential aid to recovery and wellbeing, however how  can this be achieved and with what help?

ACCESS TO WORK is a specialist disability service from JOBCENTRE PLUS that gives practical advice and support to Employers and to disabled people, whether they are working, self-employed or looking for employment.

Access to Work is provided where someone needs support or adaptations beyond the reasonable adjustments which an employer is legally obliged to provide under the Equality Act.

They say that the government department called “Access to Work” is one of the best kept official secrets. They have funding to assist people back into work, which for both employer and employee can make a huge difference. So many times, after limb loss, you can believe that your working career is finished. However, this is far from the truth as I personally am a testament to  returning to work, and it certainly assisted my recovery. I also went on to have a successful career.

So, what is Access to Work and how can both employee and employer take advantage of this department?. Firstly, without getting political it should be advertised more widely to Employers, ensuring they understand how this can help Employees (You dear reader?) return to work.  Having the vital information pre-armed will allow the Employer to start the process early. I would also hope that Consultants, Managers and Allied Health Professionals are aware of this financial support and have the necessary discussion with Patients at an early stage.  Funding for specialist artificial limbs or wheelchairs for example not otherwise available might be forthcoming.

Regarding early intervention, could possibly start in hospital and at the limb centres. Having  employment specialists  from the Department regularly reaching out to hospitals and limb centres would start the thought process of returning to work, and speed total rehabilitation. It would also be valuable if the employment specialist could contact the employer.

How can you find our more about Access to Work, more commonly known as A2W. Well you can start by viewing the site www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-guide-for-employers.

On this site employers can start to see what services are available including the following with the single aim of assist the disabled person back to return to work :

  • aid and equipment in the workplace
  • adapting equipment to make it easier for them to use
  • travel to/from work
  • travel in work
  • communication support at interviews
  • a wide variety of support workers
  • the Mental Health Support Service if required
  • other practical help at work, such as a job coach or a sign-language interpreter

For the returnee further advice can be sort at the Job Centre via the specialist Disability Employment Advisor. There are also a number of government programmes assisting people to return to work, with the present programme being called “Workchoice” Many counties across the country also commission other organisations to assist.

However, my concern is that often these welcome and beneficial programmes only if at all kick in late along the rehabilitation pathway, rather than intervening earlier in the process, before people believe their career is finished. And perhaps they have lost confidence.

Let’s recap – there is help offering a wide range of services including physical adaptations and assistance to travel to/from work. The person returning may only need assistance for a short period of time or they may need help for longer periods. Whatever, it is certain returning to work will be good for the employer and the employee. In my book this is a win win situation. So, an early intervention to return to work could also reduce potential mental health issues and be beneficial to the NHS and for Government the person returns to being a taxpayer.

So can we all help spread the word and could we encourage all concerned to help speed and increase the uptake of A2W, including Consultants, Managers and Allied Health Professionals, and of course the specialists in the Department of Work and Pensions providing this much needed Service?

Glenn Badham