Seek support from those around you
Re-entering the world of work can be a daunting prospect after a head or brain injury, so it is important to find support where you can. Whether it is a health professional, your friends, family, or even a colleague, accepting you need help from someone is half the battle.
Part of this is also communicating with your employer any challenges you might be facing. You do not have a duty to disclose a health issue to your employer unless it puts others at risk, but keeping an open dialogue can ensure that any issues you face on your return to work are dealt with effectively.
Make sure you’re ready
As mentioned at the start of this article, it is essential that you know when you’re ready to return to work. Many brain injury survivors find themselves returning too soon because they underestimate the impact their symptoms have on their ability to work, which can be damaging to their confidence.
To try and ensure you’re prepared you can put in practice at home though, for example by training yourself to take notes on the phone, keeping appointments, or keeping to a schedule.
Accept that you might not work in the same way as you once did
Whilst you should try and be positive about your return to work, it is also important to be realistic; a brain injury often leads to subtle but significant changes to the way people work.
You may not be able to deal with high-stress situations as you once did, and you might not be able to work as long hours – whatever it might be, you must be willing to accept things may be different.
Use strategies to cope with changes to the way you work
As mentioned above, there are a range of accommodations that employers can provide in the workplace. These can help you to manage any issues that may affect you on a day-to-day basis including fatigue, concentration, and memory loss, among others.
With these coping strategies in place, it is also important that you arrange for any managers you have to monitor your work and to feedback where improvements can be made. This way you can ask for further assistance or adaptations should any particular challenges be affecting the way you work.
What if I can’t return to work?
If you feel unable to return to work, you should seek advice before making any decision. This includes checking whether you are eligible for ill-health retirement or Permanent Health Insurance (PHI). You can find more information about how we can help with PHI.