It was great to attend this really informative session learning about the role of Health and Work Champions within the NHS. Working in service user engagement in Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust where service user employment has been prioritised for many years, I was uncertain what there would be to learn. The answer: a lot!
Karin Bishop brilliantly highlighted the hugely important role occupational therapists have in relation to health and employment and perhaps more importantly, how well recognised this role is. Karin outlined how crucial to implementing the Green paper on Health, Work & Disability occupational therapists are. Occupational therapists are around the table with Government led discussions focussing on “Fit notes” and “Embedding Work as a Clinical Outcome”. Therefore, it’s really important for all of us to let her know real life examples of great practice in this area or where we encounter challenges, so that these can be addressed.
Onto health and work champions….well two occupational therapists described the challenges and benefits of taking on this voluntary role championing the role of work to health. The idea behind the scheme is to upskill the NHS workforce about the links between health and work and make sure all service users are asked about work and supported in their employment aspirations. Volunteer champions train staff from their organisations to ask about work and signpost them towards appropriate vocational services, meaning that employment becomes everybody’s business and service users receive greater vocational support. The scheme is expanding and more champions are needed – could it be you? The volunteer role description is available here
It would be brilliant to see this role extended to all organisations and opened up to those with lived experience of gaining or maintaining employment despite living with health conditions. This may happen, if the scheme evaluation is positive.
Written by Laura Di Bona