Chronic, persistent, or long-lasting pain affects up to one in five Australians. People with chronic pain typically experience both physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms can include anything from fatigue and depression, to discomfort, soreness, and tightness.
These tips and strategies may help people with chronic pain find and keep a job they love.
Preparing for the right job
Finding or returning to work is a common goal for people with chronic pain. Many people may take the time to consider a new career pathway. Others may choose to stay in their current industry and negotiate changes to optimise their support.
At EPIC we want everyone to be well prepared and have the best chance at finding job success. Some people may be ready to join the workplace straight away. Others may need additional training to ensure they have the right skills and confidence to succeed. Education Assist (our Registered Training Organisation) can help people with chronic pain to learn new skills that will them for the right job.
Workplace arrangements are also important to consider when re-entering the workforce. Flexible working arrangements may help people with chronic pain manage workplace demands. People with chronic pain should decide if they prefer to work full-time, part-time, or on a casual roster. These flexible workplace arrangements can help manage workplace burnout and strain, and lead to meaningful and sustainable employment.
At EPIC Assist, we understand that everyone is different. We offer a personalised service to people with chronic pain and provide the support they need to prepare for the right role. Find out more about what job seekers and businesses can expect when they connect with EPIC Assist.
Managing chronic pain
Pain doesn’t only affect the body. It also affects how people feel emotionally. Up to 50% of people experiencing chronic pain may also have symptoms for depression. Supportive counselling and therapy can form vital parts of chronic pain management plans. People with chronic pain have to learn how to live a new life full of unexpected challenges and changes. Therapy can help people cope with the emotional impact of pain.
Whilst some people may overcome chronic pain, many find that aiming for total recovery is unachievable. Instead, they seek to find happiness in their management plan. The worst part for most people is the frustration of searching for a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan. The early stages of chronic pain can be frightening and confusing, and it can be difficult to know where to turn to for support.
Our Mental Health Consultancy is available to all EPIC job seekers who need it. They can guide people with chronic pain through their employment journey and better prepare them for managing pain in the workforce.
Reasonable workplace adjustments
The right tools can make all the difference in helping people with chronic pain be at their best. Understanding how reasonable adjustments can support people with chronic pain is an important step towards optimising productivity and workplace mental health.
Reasonable adjustments will differ from person to person. These adjustments may be temporary or permanent, and are designed to optimise a work process, procedure, or environment. For a person with chronic pain, these could include ergonomic adjustments, such as standing desks, footrests, and ergonomic supports.
Reasonable adjustments don’t have to be physical. Many people with chronic pain find that reduced work hours and working from home enhance their productivity and wellbeing. Additional short breaks can also help break up work and manage pain, lack of concentration, and fatigue.
EPIC Assist can liaise with Job Access and handle all the logistics relating to reasonable adjustments. We make the process as simple and affordable as possible to ensure that all people with chronic pain are supported.
Support from your employer
Chronic pain is largely an invisible illness, and those experiencing it can feel misunderstood and isolated in their workplace. The reality is, it can be difficult for people without chronic pain to understand the day-to-day life of people with chronic pain.
Social supports and lifestyle factors heavily influence a person’s ability to manage chronic pain. A supportive employer can make an incredible difference in helping manage chronic pain and improving wellbeing. For example, employers can help support people with chronic pain by negotiating flexible work hours and routines that prioritise wellbeing.
EPIC ensures that our job seekers are matched with an employer that understands their unique needs. We take the time to explain what support different people with chronic pain need to thrive in the workplace. When employers are educated and understand chronic pain, everyone benefits.