Supporting employees with long term conditions

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Long term conditions are conditions that cannot be cured but can be managed through medication and/or therapy. Examples of long term conditions include diabetes, asthma, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and mental health issues.

Living with a long term condition is a major theme in this year’s Self Care Week, which is running from 14-20 November. Self-care can be described as taking control of your condition and looking after yourself (e.g. taking medicine properly, exercising, etc.). (More information on Self Care Week can be found in a recent blog on this site).

Many people who suffer from long term health conditions report that they have missed out on training and work opportunities, and can find it hard to manage their work despite their condition. However, employers should give those with long term health conditions the same chances as others even though they may require substantial flexibility due to pain, fatigue, unpredictable symptoms and health appointments, which can all conflict with an employer’s needs for reliability.

As part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, the Department of Health Health@Work network has published practical guides on chronic conditions for both employers and employees, which are available on the NHS Choices website. The guides (which have been endorsed by Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work) aim to help organisations support employees who are suffering with long term health conditions.

It is generally accepted that working in a well-managed and safe environment is good for a person’s general health and wellbeing because it offers a whole host of benefits above and beyond financial gain (e.g. a sense of identity, belonging and achievement). Work is also considered to be beneficial for those suffering from chronic health conditions not least because being in work can aid recovery and rehabilitation, and improve a person’s quality of life and wellbeing. It is advisable for employers to seek advice on helping employees deal with long term medical conditions at work to ensure that all important factors have been taken into consideration. For immediate, free advice, call the Health for Work Adviceline on 0800 0 77 88 44.

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