When a worker is injured, especially in a way that significantly impacts on their lifestyle or income and earning capacity, Occupational Rehabilitation Providers (ORPs) are often engaged to facilitate treatment, recovery and the potential for return to work. Rehabilitation Consultants (RCs) have a unique insight and role to play in the lives of injured workers, helping clients navigate the complexities of an insurance and treatment system, while also striving to achieve recovery goals.
SRAA conducted research during 2017 that was analysed and delivered in 2018 with respect to occupational rehabilitation and suicidality.
Findings were presented by Carmen at the National Suicide Prevention Australia conference, in Adelaide in July 2018.
Download the full report and conclusions on Occupational Rehabilitation and Suicide Prevention. We greatly appreciate the input and participation of ORPs and Rehabilitation Consultants from across Australia, with personal experience and insight offering valuable contributions to our findings. In honouring the time provided by RCs, we have ensured that this report tracks their narrative and experience with quotes and examples, highlighting opportunities for improvement. This research offered many insights, with just a few key shared below.
Critical findings indicated that Rehabilitation Consultants share common concerns in their work:
- Being uncertain on how to manage or respond to a client/injured worker reporting suicidality
- Managing disclosures with a lack of information about the client/injured worker
- Feeling that there is a lack of support from the insurer and that services options are limited
- Feeling that they have received a lack of training and support generally
In addition, RCs described common challenges or obstacles in their work with injured workers experiencing suicidality:
- Lack of confidence in the systems and procedures recommended
- Working with limited resources, funding and options
- Experiencing poor communication with providers, the client/injured worker and other stakeholders
- Difficulties in maintaining contact and rapport with the client/injured worker
When RCs were asked to comment on what they thought would make the biggest difference in their service provision (including what may support confidence and skills building), they indicated that their top three needs to be:
- Greater access to treatment/interventions, or the ability to extend services for injured workers reporting suicidality
- Increased knowledge regarding suicidality for all stakeholders, including insurers/Case Managers, treatment providers. They emphasised their role and value in delivering services and support to injured workers, wanting greater recognition of this role by other stakeholders
- Formal training for RCs in screening, treatment and intervention approaches indicated for clients/injured workers experiencing suicidality
SRAAs research critically highlighted and consolidated research from the USA by Lund and colleagues (2017) with respect to the Experience, knowledge, and perceived comfort and clinical competency in working with suicidal clients among Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellors, as certainly relevant and consistent in Australia.
Although SRAA can only meet some of those needs identified by RCs, we continue to advocate for greater understanding of suicidality within the rehabilitation frameworks and for ORPs, to demystify the injured workers’ experience and advocate for treatment providers implementing evidence based treatment approaches. SRAA are uniquely positioned to offer not only training in these areas, but also templates, infographics and communication techniques to enhance the relationships between RCs and their stakeholders. Our training services, reports and resource templates will equip you as an occupational rehabilitation provider to respond to injured workers reporting suicidality.
SRAA continue to advocate for system advances, delivering key note addresses to audiences in the areas of psychological injury and return to work, functional capacity and suicide prevention.
Improving your ability to identify and respond effectively to suicidality is profoundly worthy of your investment.