Three in 10 working-age stroke survivors have lost their job

Some 100,000 strokes occur every year in the UK, leading to 38,000 deaths, and are a leading cause of death and disability

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Three in 10 working-age stroke survivors have lost their job as a result of having a stroke, a new poll suggests.

The Stroke Association said that the physical and emotional impact of having a stroke can be “severe” as it released the results of a poll of stroke survivors.

Some 100,000 strokes occur every year in the UK, leading to 38,000 deaths, and are a leading cause of death and disability, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Strokes, which occur when the blood flow to part of the brain is cut off, are a medical emergency and even short delays to treatment can be deadly or leave patients with life-altering disabilities.

The new survey of 3,500 stroke survivors found:

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  • 30% of those under the age of 60 who survived a stroke said it directly led to them losing their job.

  • 6% of under-60s said it led to them losing their home.

  • 23% of stroke survivors under the age of 60 said their stroke had a negative impact on their relationship with their partner and 20% said they lost friends as a result.

  • 60% of stroke survivors under the age of 50 said they never emotionally recovered from the impact of having a stroke, compared with 44% over the age of 50.

  • Half of all stroke survivors surveyed said they have not physically recovered from their stroke.

The charity released the results of the poll as it called for people to donate funds to give stroke survivors “hope” after a stroke.

It said that 76 per cent of stroke survivors said that hope played an important role in recovery.

The Stroke Association is trying to raise funds for its specialist services including a helpline, peer support service, support groups and support co-ordinators.

Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “Every five minutes, someone in the UK will have a stroke and in a flash, their life is changed.

“Two thirds of people who survive a stroke find themselves living with a disability.

“The physical impact of a stroke is severe, but for many, the emotional aspects of coming to terms with having a stroke are just as significant.

“Finding hope is a crucial part of the recovery process. Without it, recovery can seem impossible.

“At the Stroke Association, we support and help people to find this hope, and rebuild their lives, but with 1.3 million people in the UK now living with the effects of a stroke, our services have never been more stretched.

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How to get back to work after a stroke

Going back to work after a stroke can be a big change.

Whether you are returning to your current job or finding a new role, support is available to help make the transition easier. At APM, we help people like you get back to work with confidence.

A stroke happens when there is not enough blood supply to the brain. This may be caused by a blocked or burst artery. Blood carries oxygen and important nutrients to the brain, so when the blood supply is cut off, brain cells begin to die.

Strokes affect everyone differently. People may experience a wide range of effects depending on what area of the brain is damaged and other health factors. 

The effects of a stroke may include:
 

  • Weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty with speech and language comprehension

  • Memory loss

  • Vision loss

  • Coordination issues

  • Changes to your mood

The effects someone experiences after a stroke may impact their ability to work. With the right support and care, many people return to work after a stroke, though not always in the same capacity.

After a stroke, it is natural to feel apprehensive about returning to work, especially if your ability level has changed. 

If you are worried about losing your job after a stroke, APM can help. Speak with us today about our government funded support services.

In this guide you will find information about:
 

  • Returning to your current job

  • Finding new job opportunities / changing careers

  • Managing in the workplace after a stroke

  • Where to find help if you need it

Will I be able to get back to work?

Many people do return to work after having a stroke. With the right care and support, you may be able to start working again. 

A person’s ability to return to work will depend on the effects the stroke had on them and the progress of their recovery. Some people make a full recovery after a stroke and others live with permanent side effects. 

The effects of a stroke are different for everyone. Stroke survivors may experience weakness, fatigue, difficulty with balance, language difficulties, vision loss, mobility issues or problems with memory.

Working with an occupational therapist can help you understand your limitations and the possibility of recovery. 

It’s important to set realistic goals around returning to work. Some people may be able to return to their current job while others may need to reassess their career. 

Your employer may be eligible for funding from the government for workplace adjustments to help you perform your job well. Workplace adjustments can help you feel more confident about returning to work after a stroke.
 

Can I return to my current job?

Some people are able to return to their previous job after having a stroke. This depends on the nature of the job, the person’s level of recovery and how much support the employer can offer.

If you can no longer perform essential job tasks of your previous role, you may be able to return to the same workplace in a different or modified role. 

Many employers want to support their employees in returning to work but they may need professional advice about how they can do so. 

At APM, we can work with you and your employer to find solutions to help you feel confident about returning to work. 

The recovery period for a stroke can be quite long and it’s important to return to work in your own time. Your occupational therapist may suggest phasing your duties back in slowly or returning to your job in a part time capacity at first.

For some people, the effects of a stroke may directly impact their ability to perform their previous job. For example, if you previously worked as a taxi driver and the stroke has impacted your ability to drive safely, you may need to seek support about changing careers.

How to get a new job after a stroke

It can feel discouraging if you are unable to return to your previous job or have experienced losing a job after a stroke. 

At APM, we have helped many stroke survivors find new roles where they feel fulfilled and empowered. 

Talking with one of our employment consultants can help you understand your options, including possibilities you may not have considered. 

Some people find work in the same industry they previously worked in. The skills and knowledge they learned in their previous roles can be transferred to their new role.

Other people see their stroke as a chance to re-evaluate their career direction and life goals. You may already have the skills and experience to apply for certain roles. Others roles may require you to undergo training to become qualified.

Looking for suitable job opportunities can be a long process. If you are having trouble finding a job after a stroke, APM is here for you. We can help with: 
 

Good jobs for stroke survivors

When thinking about what types of jobs might be right for you, think about your interests, skills and abilities. 

You may wish to speak to an occupational therapist about how the stroke has affected your ability to perform certain tasks. It’s important to be realistic about what you can do and set achievable goals that you can work towards.

With the right support, people who have had a stroke can work in a range of job roles and workplaces. At APM, we have helped many stroke survivors find meaningful long term employment. 

Take Tansy for example. After experiencing a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain, Tansy has restricted use of her right eye, arm and leg. When Tansy came to APM, she was struggling to find long term employment. 

Her APM employment consultant helped her find her dream job working in a primary school library where she is valued by the staff and students. Now Tansy is studying to become a teacher with the support of her employer and APM.
 

Managing in the workplace after a stroke

When you return to work after a stroke, you may encounter challenges. It’s important to monitor how you are going and reach out for help if you need it. 

Regaining confidence in the workplace can take time. At APM, we can work closely with you and your employer to make sure you have the support you need to feel confident about doing your job.

This may include workplace adjustments such as: 
 

  • Limiting certain movements or tasks that are out of your range

  • Reducing the amount of meetings / phone calls etc relative to your speaking ability

  • Days off for appointments

  • Flexible start/end times so you can avoid peak hour traffic if transport is an issue

  • Regular breaks to cope with fatigue

  • Special equipment such as keyboards designed to be used with one hand or speech recognition software

  • Mobility aids

  • Working from home

Support is available

If you are worried about losing your job after a stroke or need help looking for a new role, APM is here for you. 

We can support you every step of the way, whether you are hoping to return to your previous job or are wondering how to get a new job after a stroke.

Did you know that you could be eligible for Disability Employment Services or Work Assist? 

These government funded programs can help you find a job and feel empowered in the workplace. When you register with APM, a dedicated employment consultant will work closely with you to find solutions that are right for you.

For more information about how we can support you in returning to work, get in touch today.
 

Enquire now 

Tags

brain injury DES disability Disability Employment Services stroke

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 WORK AFTER  STROKE

1. Issues to consider whilst on sick leave or planning to start work Will I be able to work after my stroke? This depends on a wide range of factors including the severity of your stroke and impairments, the type of employment you were in before your stroke and want to do afterwards, attitudes of key people, how much support you receive … and many more. But many stroke survivors do manage to return to or find work after their stroke. What things do I need to consider? • Whether you wish to work on a full-- time or part-time basis • Whether you want to go back to the same employer, job and responsibilities that you had before your stroke • Whether you want to try something different or a new way of working Many people feel that they would be more able to work if they had more rehabilitation from, say, an occupational therapist (OT) and/or a physiotherapist. You may have to push for services from specialist staff to help get you fit for work. If you don’t get what you want, push some more. Most people need many months off work after a stroke. Doctors, therapists, benefits advisors, your employer and your family may all have different opinions about if, when and how you should work after stroke. If you have a sympathetic employer, keep in contact with them while you are on sick leave. Talk through your thoughts, concerns and options with someone you trust and who will support you in making your decision. Some people manage well once they start work after stroke or a long period of sick leave and find that working again boosts their recovery. Others report that their stroke leaves them feeling vulnerable and exposed and that their confidence is affected. Work they did before their stroke may be too demanding afterwards because cognitive and/or physical abilities are not what they used to be. Chronic Tips – from stroke survivors and employers ➢ Talk to your employer about a gradual return to work – often called a ‘phased return’ - or a work trial to ease yourself in gently. ➢ Use the Different Strokes Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/differentstrokesuk) to talk to other stroke survivors. ➢ Call the Different Strokes helpline on 0345 130 7172. ➢ Find out about any changes at work and their likely effects on you or your position before you start back. Don’t be surprised if changes occur within your organisation while you are away on long-term sick leave. Talk to your manager if you are concerned. You may want to seek advice, perhaps from your Union. ➢ Be prepared to explore redeployment. Organisations have to think of the needs of their service users/customers as well as their employees. If you have a serviceprovision role, your employer will want to be sure you can still 'deliver' after your stroke. If this is not possible, or adjustments cannot be made to help you in your role, redeployment (working in a different role or different part of the organisation) may be an alternative. When should I look at returning to work? Some people report being held back by others from starting work, despite feeling ready. Others feel pressurised into working too early after stroke – this can come from financial needs or insufficient sick leave entitlement, or by employers, doctors or others who may underestimate the recovery time needed to get over difficulties after a stroke If you feel your doctor isn’t being sympathetic towards you, make an appointment with a different doctor at the practice. Try to start work when the time feels right for you. Don’t push yourself to return to work too early. Take full advantage of any sick leave that is offered, and any support on offer from your employer. A gradual return to work, e.g. working mornings only with a reduced workload for some time, has helped many get back to work. Try to build up hours and responsibilities gradually. Information Pack

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What factors will my influence my employer’s perspective?

.Large, public organisations may find it easier than small, private businesses to keep your job open while you are on long-t erm sick leave or to offer a staged return to work. Big employers tend to have more human and financial resources (e.g. to fund your replacement while you are off). On the other hand, large organisations may be bound by formal policies which can mean less flexibility than smaller ones. If your employer can’t offer you what you want, seek advice about alternative options that will enable you to work when and how it suits you. Sources of advice include your local Job Centre, or possibly an employment agency may be helpful. Welfare rights organisations can advise about benefits you may be entitled to. There are contacts at the end of this document that might be helpful. Many employers say they are concerned with health and safety issues and adhering to insurance conditions, so may not want you to return until you are assessed as fit for work. Your employer may ask your GP, hospital consultant or an occupational health physician to do this assessment. Employers may be happy to work with you and an advocate of your choice (e.g. OT, supportive colleague) to work out the best time for your return to work and help you in the workplace. You might need to be the one to get the ball rolling - so do not be afraid to

Who can help me decide the right time?

If you’re unsure about when to return to work you could get help from somebody who has been supporting you during your recovery. They can assist with discussions between you and your employer. You could ask someone like an Occupational Therapist, Psychologist or other key worker. A Disability Employment Adviser (DEA), from the Disability Service Team at your local Job Centre, is another person who can provide advice and support. If support is unavailable, discuss your situation with your employer and GP. Consider taking a family member or friend with you. If you do this, be clear with your supporter about their role. Again, take advice from other stroke survivors wherever possible.

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