Step 5 of 10 in getting ready to return to work:
Encouraging cancer survivors to play an active role in their vocational rehabilitation such as using self-management approaches and educating themselves on what to expect. Taking control over their rehabilitation will help them to feel more empowered, confident to capitalize on inner and external resources, and improve their chances of successful rehabilitation. Too often, cancer survivors feel that the return to work process is not within their control which can make them feel vulnerable. However, most of the time, survivors want to do everything in their power to restore their abilities and enhance their quality of life but they may not always know about resources that can help them prepare to go back to work. In some cases, when they are receiving disability benefits (such as long- term disability), they may feel that case managers from insurance companies are pressuring them to get back to work. Survivors may not realize that, if they actively access assistance to improve their work-related abilities, case managers may actually feel reassured that the survivors are moving forward and may be less likely to pressure them. In fact, health care providers can assist cancer survivors to feel empowered by encouraging them to ask for needed services such as vocational rehabilitation, exercise programs, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy from their insurance providers.
As a healthcare provider, one of your role in the return to work process can be to encourage survivors to explore and access services that are available through:
- cancer centres
- other health care organizations
- community agencies
- government departments agencies (for example, through Service Canada)
- the private sector (services through insurance , employee and family assistance, or extended health or self-pay)
- online resources
- print resources
- emotional support available virtually or by phone
It can be very helpful for healthcare providers to familiarize themselves with resources that are not specific only to cancer. Some of these services may target individuals that have had health conditions as a result of cancer and treatments such as brain injury, pain, amputations, or sleep challenges that affect workability. Also, resources on vocational rehabilitation and legal issues that serve the general public may be helpful for cancer survivors to know about.
For ideas for survivors on how to address the challenges that cancer and its treatment present at work, see Cancer’s impact on work and strategies.