Around a quarter of people who have a stroke are of working age.
If the person is of working age, returning to work can seem daunting after their stroke. Many people get little or no advice about how and when they should return to their job. In some instances they may not be able to return to their previous job because of their disability or because of a health and safety risk caused by the stroke. However working does have proven health benefits. Here are some of the steps to take to get back to work after stroke.
- See your GP. They are not experts in workplace conditions but they will be able to discuss how the stroke may have affected the person’s ability to return to previous work. You may need to tell him or her what the working day involved including the amount of mental and physical effort required. He or she could refer the person for work assessment or issue a Fit note ( fitness to work). If they work for a large organisation which has access to occupational health services they may be referred to them.
- Talk to your employer. By keeping in touch they will be aware of their progress and it is usually easier to negotiate possible return to work when they have made an effort to keep in contact.
- Know your rights. The Disability and Equality Act 2010 has information on work and disability in the workplace.The employer has to make “Effective Adjustments” to allow the person to return. This can include;
- changes to working hours
- change in shift patterns
- allowing time off for hospital appointments or further rehabilitation
- phased return over a few weeks rather than going back to the previous hours right away
- reallocating tasks to someone else
- transferring to an alternative existing vacancy
- providing equipment to help them do the job
The employer should not put pressure on them to resign if they are deemed to be fit to work, if they do, this is discrimination which can be challenged.
- Better to wait? Don’t try to go back to work if the person is not ready or able. It is better to get some further help and advice rather than rush back to work and have to take time off sick. It will affect the person’s morale and give a negative impression to the employer.
- What your job involves. The person may feel able to cope with some aspects of the job but still be concerned about others.For example, they may feel physically able but still get easily fatigued or concentration is not as good as it was. Get help to work out how to tackle the parts of the job they are concerned about. See the useful contacts section at the end.
- Informal work visit Arrange an informal visit to work to discuss return. If they feel unable to do this on their own they could ask for another person to be present.