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New tool helps patients back to work

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A learning tool has been launched to help nurses encourage patients back to work after a period of ill health

The web-based initiative, produced jointly by the RCN and the Department for Work and Pensions, shows nurses how they can support and advise patients who are reluctant to return to employment following sickness or incapacity.
The site identifies those key barriers that prevent patients from returning to work and shows nurses how to draw up a career plan that makes the transition between ill health and employment less daunting.
Based on research that shows that returning to work improves both physical and mental health, the tool promotes the message that employment is positive for health and well-being.
Sharon Horan, RCN occupational health adviser, said that the period after treatment was rarely considered by patients and their clinicians.
‘The problem is patients do not talk about what jobs they do or what their jobs will be like when they return to work, the whole focus is on what is physically wrong with them,’ she explained. ‘But because of the close contact nurses have with patients they can engage with individuals about these topics and, if they can promote the benefits that working has on health, more people can get back to work as soon as possible.’
Lord McKenzie, junior work and pensions minister, said: ‘If we’re serious about helping people back into work we need to make sure our nurses are fully supported. The nursing profession has a vital role to play and their advice and actions help to shape the patients’ views and influence their actions.’

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