Employment Advice for People with a Brain Injury

After making a certain level of recovery from a brain injury, you may feel that you are ready to return to work. However, due to the effects of a brain injury, you may need to make changes as you may be unable to do the job you once had or can no longer do it safely.

This does not mean that you are not able to work, but it may mean having to adapt to accommodate your needs in the workplace, or find a different role altogether. Returning to work requires flexibility and creativity, as well as guidance and support to help people prepare for, explore and establish employment.

What are the Benefits of Working for Somebody with a Brain Injury?

Work provides a number of personal and social benefits, including:

  • A sense of personal worth
  • A chance to participate in a social community
  • A structure to the day
  • Financial independence

Furthermore, working has been shown to improve quality of life and life satisfaction after a brain injury. Our expert brain injury solicitors can assist with the planning in relation to a return to work in order to ensure that any transition back to work is as seamless as possible.

Will Someone with a Brain Injury be able to Return to a Previous Job?

When returning to work, going back to the job you had before your brain injury is the best route to take if you are able. Familiarity with the role, colleagues and the working environment can all be helpful; however, some adjustments may need to be made to accommodate any new requirements.

We produced a guide with advice on how you can make a successful transition back to work - take a look at the guide here.

What Adjustments can be Made at Work for People with a Brain Injury?

Changes to help accommodate a return to work vary depending on the severity of your brain injury. Here are some examples of the adjustments that can be made to make your return to work as effective as possible:

For improving concentration

  • Reducing distractions in the workplace
  • Providing a quiet place to work or a separate office/workspace
  • Allowing the use of white noise or environmental sound machines
  • Allowing an employee to play soothing music
  • Increasing natural light or providing suitable lighting
  • Reducing clutter in the employee’s workspace
  • Planning for uninterrupted work time
  • Splitting large assignments into smaller tasks
  • Restructuring the job to include essential functions

For improving organisation

  • Making daily to-do lists
  • Using calendars to mark meetings and deadlines
  • Reminding the employee about important deadlines
  • Using a timer
  • Using an electronic organiser
  • Assigning a mentor to assist the employee
  • Scheduling weekly meetings

For memory problems

  • Allowing the employee to record meetings
  • Providing written minutes of each meeting
  • Providing written instructions as well as verbal
  • Allowing additional training time
  • Providing environmental cues for the locations of items, e.g. labelling
  • Posting instructions near to frequently-used equipment

For motor impairment

  • Providing parking close to the workplace
  • Providing an accessible entrance, e.g. automatic doors
  • Providing an accessible toilet and break room
  • Moving a workstation close to other work areas
  • Providing accessible routes to other work areas
  • Adjusting the desk height to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter
  • Making sure materials and equipment are within reach

For vision impairment

  • Providing written information in large print
  • Providing a glare guard for computer monitors
  • Increasing natural lighting
  • Changing fluorescent lights

For fatigue or weakness

  • Reducing or eliminating physical exertion
  • Scheduling rest breaks
  • Allowing a flexible work schedule, including working from home
  • Implementing an ergonomic workstation
  • Providing a scooter or other mobility aid

The key to making an effective return to work is communication. Be open and honest with employers in relation to workplace issues.

What Support is Available for People with a Brain Injury Returning to Work?

If you are considering finding a new job after suffering a brain injury, there are different types of advisors available at Jobcentres who can provide advice and support on your options for returning to work.

Some Jobcentres have disability employment advisors (DEAs) and work coaches who offer specific advice about returning to work with a brain injury. They can help with work preparation, recruitment, interview coaching and confidence-building.

DEAs and work coaches carry out employment assessments to identify what kind of work will be suitable based on your skills, abilities, previous employment and interests. Once an assessment has been completed, the DEA or work coach can recommend suitable jobs or offer advice on schemes that can help you to return to work.

Examples of returning to work schemes include:

Disability Confident

The Disability Confident scheme is made up of employers who have made a commitment to supporting disabled employees within the workplace. Employers are identified by the government’s Disability Confident symbol, but a list of employers who have signed up for the scheme can be found here.

Access to work

This is a government scheme that offers financial support to those returning to work with a brain injury or other disability. The grant covers the cost of making adaptations to the workplace, including specialist equipment to make a work environment more accessible.

The access to work scheme is available across the UK; however, it slightly differs in Northern Ireland. For more information, visit either the GOV UK or the NI Direct site.

Vocational rehabilitation

This is a multidisciplinary service often consisting of health professionals (such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists) and employment services, and is an extension of NHS rehabilitation services. To find out if this service is available to you, contact your local NHS brain injury rehabilitation team.

Work clubs

Local community-led clubs are available to anyone unemployed who is looking to find work or develop work-related skills. Details of your local work club can be found on your local council website.

Work programmes

This is a scheme that can offer work experience and training for up to two years if you have been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for more than three months or receive an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Speak to your local Jobcentre for more information on work programmes.

Work trials

A work trial allows you to try a job for up to 30 days on a voluntary basis without any employment-related benefits being affected. You will need to discuss this option with an advisor at your local Jobcentre, as there are conditions, such as the number of hours a week that the job is offered.

Contact your local Jobcentre first to find out whether they have a DEA available to assist you.

What Types of Jobs are Suitable for People with a Brain Injury?

The type of job somebody with a brain injury can do varies depending on their level of function; however, there are certain roles to which they may be better suited, which an occupational therapist or vocational psychologist could assist you with.

Make a Compensation Claim

Our expert brain injury solicitors can help you to make a claim for compensation should your accident have been caused by somebody else’s negligence. Compensation can help to make your life post-injury as close to the life you had before by covering the financial impact of your injury, such as loss of earnings.

To find out more about making a brain injury compensation claim with JMW, visit our dedicated page.

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