Abstract 3123: Toolkit for Return to Work after Stroke
Background: The Southwestern Ontario (SWO) Stroke Network completed community engagement forums with stroke survivors, their loved ones and community service providers to determine barriers to living fully in the community after stroke. One of the priorities identified in the forums was the need for "return to work" services. Currently, 10 % of stroke survivors are people under the age of 50 and in the prime of their working life. Research indicates that return to work rates after stroke are as low as 7%. However, employment is one of the most important social roles that a person fulfills and not working has negative impacts on one’s overall quality of life, health, finances, social isolation and self-efficacy. Stroke survivors and health care professionals need to be aware of how to navigate the process of return to work after stroke.
Purpose: A toolkit of resources has been developed to assist stroke survivors and health care professionals navigate the process of return to work after stroke.
Methods: A working group comprised of experts in vocational rehabilitation and stroke care developed a toolkit of resources to educate and assist stroke survivors and health care professionals navigate the complex system of return to work. The resources have undergone an external review by health care professionals and stroke survivors.
Results: Resources developed include a self assessment guide. It assesses five critical areas to return to work by evaluating the stroke survivor’s current abilities against the demands of the job and is designed to help focus the individual’s recovery efforts. Algorithms on how to navigate the system of return to work, including how to traverse the system of financial benefits and questions to ask employers and information on community financial supports were developed. A literature review and inventories outlining services for persons with stroke, who are preparing to re-enter the workforce, are part of the toolkit. Health care providers and stroke survivors have confirmed the face to face validity of the resources.
Conclusions: Research indicates that stroke survivors should be encouraged to evaluate their potential of returning to work and should receive support from knowledgeable professionals regarding return to work as soon as possible after stroke. This toolkit is intended to support stroke survivors and their health care professionals to navigate the system for a successful return to work. Next steps include the development of a website to assist with return to work.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.