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7. Contribute to the development of a return to work plan

Ms. Maureen Parkinson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor, M.Ed. C.C.R.C, BC Cancer

Ms. Maureen Parkinson is the province-wide vocational rehabilitation counsellor at the BC Cancer Agency. She has also been vocational rehabilitation counsellor at a public rehabilitation hospital and vocational rehabilitation consultant to insurance companies and the court system. She has instructed and facilitated Service-Canada-funded programs on job searching and career exploration. Ms. Parkinson has a Masters in Counselling Psychology, is a Canadian Certified Rehabilitation Counsellor, and completed the Certified Return to Work Coordinator Program through the National Institute for Disability Management and Research. She has developed return-to-work and job-search seminars for cancer patients and created the guidebook “Cancer and Returning to Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients” as well as on-line articles about returning to work and school. She also co-authored a paper commissioned by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, “Cancer and Work: A Canadian Perspective”.

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Dr. Christine Maheu, RN, PhD

Dr. Christine Maheu is an Associate Professor in the Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. Dr. Maheu is also an Affiliate Scientist at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. At McGill University, she teaches research methods, supervises graduate students (masters, doctoral, post-doctoral), mentors practicing nurses and students in research, and conducts research in English and French. She has held research awards with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. These awards funded her research in psychosocial oncology, which focuses on developing and testing psychosocial interventions or measurements tools for various cancer populations. Additionally, in partnership with Ipsos Canada and funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, she is co-leading a nationwide survey of the needs of cancer patients for transition care from the end of their treatment to three years after their diagnosis. Dr. Maheu received awards for excellence in nursing research (2013, 2015, 2016) from Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology, and the Quebec Association of Nurses in Oncology.

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Step 7 of 10 in getting ready to return to work:

A return to work plan needs to be individualized, incorporate the feedback of all involved (survivor, employer and healthcare provider), and have flexibility.

Healthcare providers can play an integral role in the creation of a formal return to work plan by:

  • discussing a time frame for return to work. For example, in a gradual return to work plan, discuss how many hours and for how long the graduated plan will be. Of note, a graduated return to work plan is the most common and effective way to ease a survivor’s return to their workplace.
  • defining the survivor’s restrictions and limitations over time.
  • recommending workplace accommodations. This can include exploring with cancer survivors job accommodation ideas to help with their transition to work and optimize their productivity. While decisions on how to adjust for restrictions lie with the employer, healthcare providers can provide helpful suggestions and recommendations.
  • creating a plan for monitoring the return to work process, including after resuming their full work schedule.

A return to work plan should be given to your patient in writing so that they can give the document to their supervisor and any other staff member who can help them with their return. For more ideas on developing a return to work plan and a healthcare provider’s role see Key questions to guide a return to work plan and Cancer and Work Return to Work Planner.

Next step:

Step 8: Prepare survivors for imminent return to work

Back to the list of return to work preparation steps