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The benefits of longer appointment times
Occupational Health management referrals are usually triggered when an employee has a health condition that has either caused them to be absent from work or is affecting their performance at work. The occupational health assessment is undertaken to support employers and employees, to enable the employee to get well enough to return to work or to manage their condition sufficiently they can remain in work.
Some occupational health providers limit the time an advisor can spend on the assessment with the employee to 20 minutes with a further 20 – 25 minutes allocated for the report to be written to the manager/employee. The purpose of the assessment with the employee is to gain an understanding of what the personal health condition is, any treatment which may be required, how the condition affects the person either mentally, physically or both and therefore how it is likely to affect them at work. This information will allow for advice to be offered regarding if any changes or adjustments would help facilitate the employee to undertake their full role or if an alternative role may be required, it may also allow for timeframes for recovery to be predicted and what specific tasks the employee may or may not be able to undertake. Many people however suffer with more than one health condition and often one condition can affect another, if there is a complex medical condition or multiple health conditions time can become very limited as to how much information we can glean in the assessment and also how much advice we are able to provide to employers.
Here at Staywelll we are given one and a half hours to undertake the assessment and write the report and we can ask for more time if clinically appropriate. This additional time allows us to undertake a holistic assessment. A holistic approach to health is essential to address the leading cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. It takes everything into account and encourages people to take charge of their health and well-being. It is also essential to prevent illnesses and find long term solutions for existing illnesses. We are able to suggest if lifestyle changes may improve their general health and wellbeing, we may point them in the direction of support if there are any family issues causing stress which is affecting the employees health. Often when we discuss someone’s medical condition they are unsure what it is or why they have it or they may be awaiting treatment that again they do not understand as it has not been explained to them in any detail or in a non medical manner which is easy to understand. We can then explain to them how their condition is likely to have developed or what the treatment is likely to entail, we can also share this with employers and this provides both parties with information which is likely to reduce the employees worry and give the employer understanding of what the employee may be going through and why they are unable to be at work or work to a previous standard. We are also able to explain in more detail what the health condition is or suggest a website with more information in order employers can understand the condition or health concern in more practical terms.
Having this additional time allows us to truly listen to employees, to understand their current health, social and work issues and to provide advice to the manager which will enable them to manage their employees more effectively, plan adjustments required to support their staff to return to work or remain in work as well as prepare for any future issues.
When choosing an occupational health provider, it may be worth considering if a cheaper service may not include time for practitioners to complete a holistic approach, this may be considered when comparing pricing and service.