It also gives us an opportunity to talk about some of the significant strides we have made over the last few years as we look to make ourselves more inclusive and support our staff better.
One of those achievements was the introduction of the Work and Wellbeing Passport. It has been introduced as a method to access support from your manager regarding any health or wellbeing concerns, providing a consistent approach across the Trust. However, it still allows the manager autonomy in making reasonable adjustments for staff to support their access to work and overcome barriers.
Someone who has already benefited from the passport is Positive Action Officer Claire Hunter. She needed support for a long-term debilitating health condition as well as dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome.
She explains how important the support she received was to her. “Being able to discuss this prevented me from being off with long-term sickness. There could have been times when I was having five or six days off every month because I physically couldn’t drive. So, having the ability to work from home or extend my working day with the acknowledgement that I’ll need longer breaks has stopped me from taking time off due to my health.
“Equally getting access to specialist software on my computer has allowed me to increase my productivity. I used to think I was working at 100%. However, the technology I’m now using has tripled the number of documents I can complete because getting them read aloud makes it easier to process, edit and proof them, and I have more confidence in my work despite my dyslexia.
“It’s empowered me to be in work, but also to be open and honest about how I am and what I’m feeling. And I can do this without fear that I’ll be made to feel like I’m a problem just because I’m not very well.”
It’s not just a tool for corporate or managerial roles. The passport has been developed to help staff on the road or in contact centres. It’s an opportunity to open conversations with their manager to discuss flexible working arrangements, for example. It also opens the door to discussing hidden disabilities and can be used for non disability related reasons such as carers, paternity and fertility.
Claire encourages others to use it as a starting point to find support.
“You’re not guaranteed to get what you want, and staff can’t just demand something and get it”, she says. “But it provides for reasonable adjustments that fit in with the Trust and how we operate.
“It’s a very powerful tool to take into a meeting with your manager because things like long-term health issues, pregnancy or disability can be very emotive subjects. It helps you be able to talk about your condition or your needs while going through those emotions. So it really does help your manager see what is needed and what health conditions you have, but it also gives them the power to take away and research or find help from someone else.
“And I think the biggest selling point is that this document follows you through the Trust. When staff change their role, the passport goes with them to theirmnew manager. And it’s a really good document for their manager to read (with their consent) and understand them as a whole before they’ve even started their job.”