There are a large number of people with disabilities working within health and social care in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes. There may be times when your disability makes things difficult at work, or conversely work makes your disability difficult to manage. You should be supported to be able to do your job to the standard that you wish, inspite of your disability.
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NHS Practitioner health says "any condition is considered a disability if it has a long-term effect on normal day-to-day activity, and this includes a range of mental health conditions alongside the more obvious physical disabilities."
Every learning disability is different. Having a diagnosis can be really important and helpful. But some people may feel that they do not need a diagnosis. A learning disability is different from a learning difficulty as a learning difficulty does not affect general intellect. Watch the video below which explains the difference:
You do not have to talk about your condition or impairment at work. It’s your choice who you tell and how much you tell them. Talking about your condition may help in some situations, but not others. Here are some tactics from Scope that disabled people have used to make working life more comfortable.
Talking about your condition
People may be curious about your condition and how you manage it. It's up to you how much you want to say. Be as honest and open as you feel comfortable with. If people do not respond well, remember that it’s not your responsibility to change people’s attitudes to disability. Some colleagues may be more introverted or awkward, or they may just be too busy to talk.
Talking to your colleagues
You could talk about:
- your condition
- what tasks you find easier or harder to do
- what you need to do your job
- how you might cope and behave at certain times
- what help you might need
You could try writing a ‘one-page profile’ about how you like to work and how people can support you. For example “I have a condition called X. This means that day to day I might Y and I may need you to Z.” or if you are concerned that a meeting might not be accessible to you, for example say: "By the way, I've got a speech impairment so just ask me to repeat myself if you do not understand me." Talking about your condition can help you to feel more in control. It may also help to put your colleagues at ease. But you do not have to answer questions you’re not comfortable with.
Talking to your manager
If you are concerned about how people act around you at work, speak to your manager. There are various ways you could help your colleagues understand how they need to work with you. You could:
- write an email introducing yourself and mentioning what support you need to attend a meeting or do your work
- offer to write a blog for the staff intranet or a newsletter
Ask your manager if you need support to do your work. This could mean getting what the law calls reasonable adjustments. If you have specific concerns about how you are being treated, discuss this with your manager.
For more information and advice about getting support in the workplace read about the Reasonable Adjustments at Work.
Some disabilities don't have any visible signs so we cannot always tell if someone has one.
People with a hidden, invisible, or non-visible disability might have an acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, partial sight or hearing loss to name a few examples. Having a hidden, invisible or paritally visible disability can result in more discrimination, having to disclose your disability to more people, receive less support than others whilst others expectations of you are higher. You may have seen individuals wearing a sunflower lanyard. Hidden disabilities, and those elligble for a sunflower lanyard include individuals with mental health issues (e.g., anxiety), a learning disability, as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. This is not an exhaustive list. For more information, watch the video below and visit the hidden disabilities website.
If you have a disability, you are protected at work from discrimination. Your employer is expected to make resonable adjustments to allow you to manage your disability and your work. Coping with disability discrimination can be tiresome and make you feel low, but there is support available.
Talk to your employer about changes they must make in your workplace, these changes could be:
- Practices, provisions and criterions: maybe changing the way you (the employee) does things to play to your strengths.
- Overcome physical barriers: this can involve making changes such as providing light sensitive glasses for extended periods of screentime.
- Providing extra equipment or assistance: disabled people may require equipment or support to carry out their jobs, such as hearing-aid loop systems for deaf and hearing-impaired employees.
- Read more about reasonable adjustment information and what you can legally ask of your employer provided by Gov.uk and Mind
- Read about discrimination in the workplace and dealing with discrimination.
- Mental Health Foundation downloadable guide to support mental health in the workplace, including those with a disability.
- Scope, a disability equality charity, has information about befriending services, anxiety and mindfulness resources to help with your mental wellbeing during Covid-19. They also have training courses available.
- Access to work is a government scheme that provides funding for things such as equipment or travel to work costs.
- Visit this gov.uk website for support if you are looking for work if you have a disability, including programmes and grants you are entitled to.
- Download this Health Passport that can support conversations with your line manger/Occupational health to put appropriate workplace adjustments in place.
- Read more about disability at work, an infographic by Citizen Advice.
- ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, have a section on disability at work and how to approach that conversations.
- CIPD have information about actions, recommendations and resources for managing the conversation about disability at work. It also provides an overview for the employers in understanding the legislation at work and what employers can do to support their staff.
- Maximus are the UK's leading disability specialists in helping people to find and stay in work, create inclusive workplaces and work in partnership to transform lives. There are also further training opportunities and a live chat available.
- Ability Net offers free IT support and computer help for those with a disability.