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August 21, 2008

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Studies show minor rehab measures can yield results

New research suggests that more than 90 per cent of people with health problems could return to work if a few principles of good health-care and workplace management were followed. Simple but structured support could also reduce the number of workers relying on long-term incapacity benefits by up to 60 per cent.

These are the findings of a Department for Work and Pensions review on vocational rehabilitation (VR), which shows that an effective return-to-work strategy depends on:

€ᄁ health care, which includes a focus on work, and early intervention tailored to meet individual needs; and

€ᄁ workplaces that proactively support employees to return to work through the temporary provision of modified work.

Further research from the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) reinforced the need to support people with mental-health issues.

Jane Aston, senior research fellow at the IES, said: “The research found that early intervention is critical in addressing mental-health problems at work, and a case-by-case approach yields the best results. Often, adjustments to the person’s role or workplace need only be minor and inexpensive. Line managers in any organisation have a vital role in recognising the signs of mental-health problems, and being confident enough to talk to staff about it.”

A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) told SHP: “This research backs up the ABI’s view that vocational rehabilitation is good for businesses, as well as individuals and the state. We support the drive to encourage employers to offer VR services through the workplace, including by introducing tax incentives.”

‘Vocational Rehabilitation: What works, for whom, and when?’ can be purchased from: The Stationery Office website, here.

Download the report, ‘Mental Health & Employment’, here

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