UK employers are ill-informed and under-equipped to support employees with brain injuries in the workplace, according to research from Hudgell Solicitors.
As a result of client feedback and a survey into how brain injury sufferers felt when they returned to work, the Hull-based solicitors firm has highlighted a distinct lack of support for individuals returning to work after a brain injury.
As part of an awareness campaign, Hudgell Solicitors has created a set of images to help visualise some of the comments received in the survey and to highlight the difficulties facing individuals with brain injuries, found here.
With responses such as “They don’t understand my injury or the nuances that come with it” and “I didn’t tell HR the full story because I don’t think they would have understood”, the survey highlights the support shortfall many brain injury sufferers are experiencing when attempting to regain independence and get back to work.
Hudgell Solicitors partner and brain injury charity, Headway, found that in 2013-14 there were 162,544 hospital admissions for head injuries, suggesting that the problem may be affecting a large amount of the working population.
Kent Pattinson, senior solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “There are strategies which employers ought to put in place to assist employees on their return to work following a brain injury.
“However, it is rare for employers to conduct occupational health and vocational assessments when clients return to work.”
Charlotte Sweeney, a Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Expert, suggested working closely with the employee to form an understanding of the unique nature of each injury.
“Every case, every symptom and the impact on day-to-day life is different for everyone – the person experiencing the brain injury is the expert in their own situation and should be consulted at all times to find out what will work for them and what support or adaptations they will need now and in the future.”
Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull, agreed, suggesting a focus on “phased schemes that allow employees to return to work at a gradual pace which suits their recovery. This may include home visits from managers in which expectations should be discussed and what changes to the job role are necessary to allow a smooth transition.”
When asked about how businesses could better integrate sufferers in the workplace and help reduce feelings of isolation, Karl Turner said: “Workshops with all staff members to discuss mental and physical health issues to foster a better understanding of the practicalities that arise when returning to work.”
Kent Pattinson agreed, saying: “Often the only adjustment is in reduced working hours for an initial period which means that no account is taken of the difficulties brain injured clients often face with deficits of concentration, attention, organisation and planning.
“Without appropriate assistance, clients can quickly become overwhelmed and find themselves unable to cope.”