Return To Work After Cancer And How Can Employers Help?

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has release a new guideline “Return to work after cancer: occupational safety and health considerations” ahead of World Cancer Day. The guideline advises employers to make back-to-work transition for cancer-stricken staff as smooth as possible.

World Cancer Day is a global even that takes place every year on February 4. It creates awareness and aims to unite the world in the fight against cancer. Cancer claims 8.2 million lives each year, of which 4 million die prematurely, i.e., aged 39-69 years.

The IOSH supported the decision to form a team to help out workers who survived cancer. Educators from National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), Loughborough University were part of the team.

The guidelines focus on making the process of recuperation easier for cancer survivors. In it they include practical advice and guidance tips for both bosses and workers and focus on possible problems during, journey from home to work and back, possible infection risks, mental and physical demands of the work and possibility of fatigue and weakness.

The guidelines also included advice on how to setup breaks for the employee and the need for setting up an emergency plan if the need may arise.

Senior Lecturer of Psychology at Loughborough, Dr.Hillary McDermott, who served as part of the team highlighted the significance of the report as it helped bring focus to each individual’s own special needs instead of giving collective advice to individuals who successfully fought cancer.

McDermott added that “People returning to work following cancer treatment are individuals so their treatment requires an individual approach. Initially, a systematic review was undertaken to understand the health and safety implications of returning to work after cancer. This identified that understanding the potential changes in individual capacity – both physically and mentally – are essential for an effective return to work.”

She also remarked that the guideline signifies how vital it was for an employer to take responsibility for each and every one of their employees.

The rate of survival for cancer is going up with each passing year, which is why many cancer survivors are rejoining their workplaces, according to the team’s analysis of case studies and return-to-work process of several corporations.

Their analysis helped the team establish certain trends about the corporations’ willingness to accept cancer survivors and informed them about effective occupational safety and health strategies that would help cancer survivors make their transition back to office smoother.

These latest guidelines came at a critical time, because according to McDermott, even though there were general guidelines to help people return to work, but there was little data about the health and safety issues that surround the transition process.

These guidelines will be a good starting point for employers, health and safety advocates and corporations to consider when they offer assistance and support to cancer survivors.

This current study also reminds them about the need for constructive, functional and effectual rehabilitation strategies in order to provide assistance and make sure the transition process of rejoining goes smoothly as possible in the case of any sort of illness.

Re-Entering The Workforce with A Chronic Condition Is a Massive Challenge

The rejoining process is crucial for long term care of any sort of former patients as they need to feel useful and wanted when they attempt to back meaning in their lives. This drive stems largely from the fact that they no longer want to have reminders about their disability or illness.

For this they need to put all their efforts into their work. But working immediately after recovering from a major illness can be quite intimidating, as work environments change, technologies change, even business models and employee roles can transform.

All of this, combined with being out of practice can make the transition period back to work a nightmare. Luckily there are several steps a person can take in order to ensure they are in the right frame of mind to continue working.

In order to ensure a fruitful experience, start early and take small steps. If a person knows they will be on the path to recovery in a few months’ time, take the initiative and inform your boss about your recovery progress and that you want small tasks assigned to you that you can work comfortably from your home or clinic during your own time.

This way even if you are not fully recovered but can take on easy tasks, it will motivate you to get back in the game quickly and won’t come as a big shock when you’re finally ready to resume fulltime.

If you fear your resume will get affected mention all activities, you did part time or any volunteer work that you participated in. focus on skills and knowledge rather than experience which can give you a fresh start.

Another step you can take is to change careers. This a daunting thought the scares most people, but recovering from a severe illness changes people’s perspectives about work and life in general. They start to think more clearly and start to appreciate the second chance they’ve been given.

They want to live their life to the fullest and want to follow their dreams and discuss the stuff they are most passionate about. So if its starting one’s own company or being a photographer, it can be the right time to do so, if they have been following the trends in their potentially new career, and picking up new skills along the way.

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