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6. Identify and foster Workplace Supports

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 6 of 10 in getting ready to return to work:

Determining whether and when the survivor is ready to return to work is important. Part of a successful return is to assess the workplace readiness. You can gather information from the survivor about the support available at their workplace and what others have received. This information can be gathered by having survivors explore with their employer or workplace representatives (such as union representatives, human resource professionals, occupational health specialist, disability managers, or return to work coordinators), the type of support offered such as a graduated return to work (GRTW), flexible hours, working from home, etc. You can also speak directly with an employer representative (with the consent of the cancer survivor) to find out what are the resources at the workplace. For more information, see Inquire about return to work practices and policies at the workplace.

What’s more, healthcare providers can encourage cancer survivors to foster support at their workplace by keeping in touch with work managers and colleagues. Ongoing and early discussion about going back to work can give the employer reason to keep a job for the survivor and can give enough time to arrange for accommodation. See: Key questions to guide a return to work plan.

For ideas on types of accommodations that employers might consider, see Workplace accommodations.

Sometimes cancer survivors may have concerns about disclosing their cancer and may benefit from considering how much, to whom and how they might share such details. For helpful information related to disclosure see: Who gets to know: How to exercise your power of “disclosure”

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Step 7: Contribute to the development of a return to work plan

Back to the list of return to work preparation steps