When Mary was diagnosed as having a malignant eye tumour – she knew as a nurse that this would have a grave impact on her life and career. As result of the surgery she was left with double vision and a whole host of vision problems.
“Getting back to work after a significant illness is a big challenge in itself, never mind one which couples vision difficulties and living with a cancer,” said Mary. “I knew I was capable of working again, but I was worried about using IT equipment, navigating around people and reading paperwork.
“Access to Work came to visit me in my new place of work to carry out an assessment. They highlighted the equipment I required and provided a grant to cover employer’s costs. This made a fantastic difference. However, some of this equipment took months to receive due to the prolonged procurement processes which made life at work a lot more stressful than it needed to be.
“I am now doing great at work and my confidence has grown with the help of these specialist aids and the support of Visibility Scotland.”
Elaine Grey, Procurement Senior Purchasing Officer
“I completely understand Mary’s frustration at having to wait so long for the equipment she needed. We have been discussing this issue as part of the Release Potential campaign and have identified ways in which this process can be speeded up. The streamlined process is improving timescales considerably.”
Research nurse Kate was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2005 after a series of seizures.
On returning to work, she was confronted with many difficulties and an ‘invisible wall’ from her colleagues.
“I was made to feel as though I had become a different person overnight. I was refused access to certain things and told not to deal with particular admin tasks, yet I was trusted to deal with patients as previous.”
While the epilepsy was being stabilised Kate’s health suffered considerably. She had time off after other seizures and was left feeling isolated.
“I wanted to work, knew I was capable of so much more than I was allowed to do and heart sick of being treated as a burden of no account.”
In 2010, Kate took a post in research at the Glasgow Clinical Research Facility. The difference was immediate.
“This was like night and day. My abilities were recognised, I was valued and I was able to be a fully useful member of staff.”
Kate has since moved to a promoted research post in Gartnavel General where she continues to thrive in a supportive environment.
“My manager looks for ways to help, understands if there are days when I feel less able. My condition hasn’t changed – my environment has - and it’s made all the difference to my working life.”
Iain Reid, Director of Human Resources
“The attitude of colleagues can make all the difference to someone returning to work. It’s also important for managers to realise the kind of support they can offer disabled staff in terms of flexible working. NHSGGC has a range of excellent work-life balance policies designed to support staff and HR is happy to advise on how these can be applied.”
John joined NHSGGC with a physical impairment which affects his mobility and was immediately made aware of the policies that were there to support him.
“My manager sat down with me and went through the various ways in which I could be supported to do my job,” said John. “He was, and always has been, incredibly supportive and determined to ensure I had what I needed.”
John was able to access an appropriate chair and have his work station adjusted to suit. However, it wasn’t just these adjustments that provided him with a positive working environment.
“There has always been a constructive attitude towards dealing with any issues I may have because of my disability,” said John, who is a Health Improvement Practitioner. “This means that I don’t ever feel worried about being able to do my job effectively – I know I can.”
Jackie Erdman, Corporate Inequalities Team Manager
“The positive attitude of John’s manager combined with our staff policies meant that John’s ability and potential was never compromised. This is clearly how things should be for all our staff.”
Jeanette has had mental health problems for a number of years. She keeps well with the help of medication and regular treatment. However, she recently experienced a ‘dip’ which resulted in her requiring time off for treatment and recovery.
“My manager was incredibly supportive and understanding about the help I required,” said Jeanette. “I was off work for 8 weeks receiving treatment and I was never put under any pressure to return before I was ready. As a result of this, I felt very positive about returning to work.”
With guidance from occupational health, Jeanette’s manager and HR created a support package for her which included a phased return and build up of duties.
“Everyone was very supportive and I did not feel stigmatized at all,” said Jeanette. “This accepting environment helped immensely in bringing me back to full functionality and confidence.”
“My experience during this time has also had a positive impact on how I manage my own team of nurses. I realise that this is how I would want my own staff be treated and I know to bring Occupational Health and HR on board for their support as soon as possible.”
Lisa Buck, Healthy Working Lives
“Fear of prejudice is especially prevalent for those with mental health issues, especially if it is not apparent. A lack of understanding of mental health and the effect it can have on daily life can mean that staff do not feel able to discuss the difficulties they are having with their managers. Jeanette’s openness with her manager and their supportive response meant that she was able to get the help she needed and return to work in a positive way.”
I was diagnosed with a condition called chronic cluster headache when I was only 24.
When I was first diagnosed, I was told to put my financial affairs in order because there is no cure and I would never work again. Despite my diagnosis I studied for a degree and qualified as a nurse. I am luckier than most.
I joined the NHS in 2013 and I hoped that my condition would not affect my work. However during that year I had several attacks and was forced to take some time off. It can be difficult to explain to colleagues that you have a debilitating condition which is called a headache and I was never able to make my manager fully understand how severe these attacks are. Eventually I was referred to occupational health.
I was nervous about the appointment. I had never met a nurse outside neurology who had heard of my condition. I attended with a bag full of paperwork and was ready to fight my corner - I didn’t need to. To my relief the nurse had researched my condition thoroughly. She understood that there were no triggers that I could avoid and that this is a rare condition covered by disability legislation. I wished I had asked for a referral before. Their report advised my manager on what I needed in order to be able to manage my condition.
I have worked really hard to stay in full time employment and with the help of supportive managers I hope to continue for some time to come.
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