An article today in Personnel Today made the following points:
Cancer survivors are often able to return to work, but are at risk of leaving the work life early.
Early departure from work life is due to chronic symptoms, such as fatigue, pain and cognitive dysfunction.
Cancer often causes partially reduced work capacity rather than disability.
A multidisciplinary intervention involving various stakeholders, and taking account of the individual needs of each cancer patient, is the most effective way of enhancing return to work and job retention of cancer survivors.
Policymakers across Europe are increasingly recognising the need for developing interventions for cancer survivors and people with other conditions that cause reduced work capacity.
Good examples of effective policies are: the “Three level model” developed by Macmillan Cancer Support; and the law of part-time sick leave in Finland.
Owing to improved treatment and early detection, cancer is increasingly becoming a chronic rather than terminal condition, which means that many cancer survivors are able and willing to return to work. Employment is associated with a higher quality of life, and encouraging survivors to return to work also benefits ageing societies economically, according to Dr Tyna Taskila.
Support could involve, but is not necessarily limited to:
- detailed assessment of individual capacity and workplace requirements;
- rehabilitation interventions to build work skills;
- education on managing specific symptoms;
- liaison with employers, negotiating a phased return to work;
- psychological interventions;
- information and advice on rights and responsibilities;
- supported withdrawal from work where appropriate;
- referral to other support services; and
- careers advice and guidance.
In other words, cancer survivors can return to work and make a valuable contribution to society, but they need support! Sadly this is not always available.