In Employee, Employer, Return to Work

Supporting a loved one following a Workplace injury

When someone you love is injured at work, the level of support you provide to them can become a crucial part of their return to work and recovery. If your loved one is feeling supported, they are more likely to return to work and recover sooner than if they feel unsupported. Supported people generally feel stronger and more confident, meaning they are more likely to make clearer and healthier decisions. The level and type of support you offer can be different depending on the severity of your loved one’s injury and the role of their pre-injury employment. To help you support your loved one and progress them forward in their return to work and recovery, I would like to offer you these five simple tips and ideas:

  1. Talk – Don’t be afraid to talk to them about their recovery. Discuss treatment, what treatment are they having and what improvement it is having. Ask them what they might be able to do both around the house and at work. It is more beneficial to keep your discussions positive and encourage them to think positively about their return to work and recovery.
  1. Always have return to work first in mind – In addition to their workplace injury or health condition that removed them from the workplace to begin with, if off work for a long period of time, your loved one may become isolated and depressed, or they may suffer adverse socioeconomic consequences or become unemployable in the long term. Without appropriate support they may also experience family disruption, loss of self‐esteem and quality of life. Your support can significantly avoid or even remove these negative impacts. Encouraging your loved one to attend their workplace and socialise with workmates can have a long-lasting positive effect. By having short and regular discussions about their workplace can help them maintain feelings of attachment to their workplace.

The Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) state that there is compelling Australasian and international evidence that good work is beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing and that long term work absence, work disability and unemployment generally have a negative impact on health and wellbeing. So, encouraging your loved one to be thinking about a return to work from the start of their injury will have long lasting positive effects.

  1. Be their co-ordinator – Medication will almost certainly be a vital part of someone’s recovery from a workplace injury. Ensuring your loved one takes their medication is important to alleviate and treat pain and symptoms. It is not uncommon for a person recovering from a workplace injury to be feeling confused and forgetful so by having someone to organise and monitor their medication intake will be very beneficial. You can also help by keeping a record of all medical and rehab appointments they have scheduled, and if their injury is impacting on their ability to drive you may like to provide transport or organise a taxi service for them.
  1. Ask them how they are feeling, do not assume – Everyone’s experience of injury is different so we can’t know exactly how someone is feeling if we don’t ask them. It is also important that we don’t compare their experience to someone else’s. you can start by saying ‘this experience sounds challenging for you, what can I do to help?’.
  1. Encourage a diet and lifestyle change – Some injuries may require a lifestyle or diet change and helping someone come to terms with these changes can be crucial to their return to work and recovery. Some injuries can also lead to a prolonged period of inactivity. Encouraging a change in diet can help your loved one reduce weight gain and maintain wellbeing. By simply monitoring the number of calories an injured person eats you can help them stay healthy while they rest, which can be as simple as encouraging fruit and vegetables rather than sweets or takeaway. For some an injury may mean they cannot undertake their favourite activity such as golf or cycling for a period. Helping them find a safe alternative will help keep them active, fit, and positive. A short discussion with their Treating Health Practitioner can help you to come up with some safe alternatives.

Support for your loved one does not have to be hard or complicated and your support can mean the world to them during the return to work and recovery following injury.

If you are helping someone return to work following injury and would like further help and assistance please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at tennille@returntoworkplus.com.au

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