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Employers fail to adequately support brain injury sufferers

Campaign from brain injury charity and law firm highlights support shortfall for employees going back to work

10 November 2015

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UK employers are ill-informed and under-equipped to support employees with brain injuries in the workplace, according to new research.

As a result of client feedback, Hudgell Solicitors has highlighted a distinct lack of support for individuals returning to work after a brain injury.

As part of an awareness campaign, the Hull-based firm has created a set of images to help visualise some of the comments received in the survey and highlight the difficulties facing individuals with brain injuries.

Responses to the survey include: 'They don't understand my injury or the nuances that come with it' and 'I didn't tell HR the full story because I don't think they would have understood'.

Hudgell Solicitors partner and brain injury charity, Headway, found that in 2013/14 there were 162,544 hospital admissions for head injuries, suggesting the problem may be affecting a large number of the working population.

Kent Pattinson, a senior solicitor at the firm, said: 'There are strategies which employers ought to put in place to assist employees on their return to work following a brain injury.

'However, it is rare for employers to conduct occupational health and vocational assessments when clients return to work.'

Charlotte Sweeney, a strategic diversity and inclusion expert, suggested working closely with the employee to form an understanding of the unique nature of each injury.

'Every case, every symptom and the impact on day-to-day life is different for everyone - the person experiencing the brain injury is the expert in their own situation and should be consulted at all times to find out what will work for them and what support or adaptations they will need now and in the future.'

Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull and shadow solicitor general, agreed, suggesting a focus on 'phased schemes that allow employees to return to work at a gradual pace which suits their recovery'.

This may include home visits from managers in which expectations should be discussed and what changes to the job role are necessary to allow a smooth transition,' he added

When asked about how businesses could better integrate sufferers in the workplace and reduce feelings of isolation, Turner said: 'Workshops with all staff members to discuss mental and physical health issues to foster a better understanding of the practicalities that arise when returning to work.'

'Often the only adjustment is in reduced working hours for an initial period which means that no account is taken of the difficulties brain injured clients often face with deficits of concentration, attention, organisation and planning,' added Pattinson.

'Without appropriate assistance, clients can quickly become overwhelmed and find themselves unable to cope.'

John van der Luit-Drummond is deputy editor for Solicitors Journaljohn.vanderluit@solicitorsjournal.co.uk | @JvdLD

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Risk & Compliance Clinical negligence