Businesses employ their staff based initially on their qualifications and experience. Employees come from varied backgrounds and walks of life, and are all hoping to get through the interview process and secure their dream job. Once the job is acquired, the employee settles in and learns their new role within the company. - This is where stress can arise and all because of one reason rarely mentioned in the interview - disability. Unless it's a disability which can be seen, for example, someone physically disabled in a wheelchair or a hearing impaired person with hearing aids. But there are also the invisible disabilities.
We go about our daily life, shopping, walking the dog and taking the children to school. We politely smile at the disabled person being pushed in the wheelchair and the person with the facial disfigurement. What we don't notice is the lady who isn't able to speak to anyone unless she goes to the local Deaf Club. Or the man who's struggling with mental health issues as his wife just passed away. - So providing a mentor or friend is nice so that they can go to them for reassurance when needed.
There are many invisible disabilities which need to be understood and accepted so that the individuals are supported appropriately.
Having an awareness
The employee may not want to declare their disability during the day of their interview, as they feel they could be discriminated against and therefore not chosen for the job. But then once they begin working, it could begin to impact on their job. In these situations, it is crucial that their disability is discussed in order for the employer to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace. There are many awareness courses through companies like traininghealthcare.com that can be presented in the workplace to comply with the diverse disabilities that surround us.
Deaf people who use BSL (British Sign Language) will require a BSL interpreter. You can find more about this on www.signcommunity.org.uk.This support may only be required for meetings, where the interpreter will be the ears and the voice of the Deaf person. Everything spoken will be signed to the Deaf person, and every response from them will be voiced over to the group. The interpreter does not have any involvement or opinion during the meeting, and is simply enabling the Deaf person to be fully involved in the discussion.
As the Deaf person is going about their daily duties, an interpreter may not be required. A reasonable adjustment could be that work colleagues write down what they want to say, or type a message on their mobile phones. There should be an awareness of the fire alarm - so either a vibrating fire alarm pager that's carried around at all times, or flashing warning lights installed within the building, and clear instructions of exits should be given.
A British Sign Language course could be introduced to colleagues, and a Deaf Awareness program will show colleagues what to do and what not to do. Things like, not talking to a Deaf person with the light behind you as it will shade your face, speak at a normal pace with natural lip patterns, and always face the Deaf person you are talking to.
Whether the individual has Cerebral Palsy and requires a wheelchair at all times, or had an accident and uses sticks to support walking - any mobility difficulty should be understood. They may get tired quickly or may be in constant pain. Their needs should be discussed and a risk assessment written.
They should have access to a disabled toilet with their own Radar key if required. Disabled access like ramps, should be situated in the building and a personal evacuation plan should be in place. - These are details of how they leave the building safely in case of an emergency.
A height adjustable desk should available for wheelchair users, and a Health and Safety check should be completed in the main area of work.
A colleague with Autism may be excellent at their job when working independently, but fall to pieces when they have to work alongside others. They may find social communication and "fitting in" very difficult. They won't understand social cues, and may say the wrong things at the wrong time. An awareness of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome is essential to educate work colleagues so that the individuals are understood and have their needs met. There should be someone, for example, a supervisor, who can give regular feedback, so they know they are working correctly. A one to one informal conversation is the best way to resolve any ongoing worries they may have. Providing a mentor or friend is nice so that they can go to them for reassurance when needed. Routine is desirable, and a structured timetable will enable them to work efficiently. Details should be given of each work task and how to complete it. These details can be written down, and that way can be referred to when necessary.
If there are any changes to be made within the business, prior information should be given in order for them to accept and accommodate the change.
Mental health issues come in all shapes and sizes and affect us in many different ways. Managing this in the workplace can be a difficult task, as what might work for some, might not work for others. For this reason, all sufferers should be treated as individuals. For some, going to work and being able to hold down a job, may be part of their recovery, or enable them to manage it easier. A feeling of confidence, self-worth, and pride is gained from going to work, if only even for a few hours a week. Others may find holding down a job an extra stress on top of their mental health struggle. In this case, the workplace should be a calm and uncomplicated place to work. There should be an atmosphere that allows and listens to the individuals and promotes a supportive network of colleagues. Awareness sessions by professionals should be implemented to educate and support colleagues through charities like www.mentalhealth.org.uk.