How to make adjustments for long-term conditions


Why long-term conditions? According to the King’s Fund, around 15 million people in England live with a long-term condition. Long-term conditions are conditions for which there are currently no cure and include arthritis, COPD, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and people who are now living with long Covid. While many long-term conditions can be managed well, they can also be limiting for people living with them, including in the workplace.

How long-term conditions affect employees

Arthritis, for example, causes joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness. Commonly, it can affect the joints in people’s fingers, so typing may prove painful or difficult. Likewise, others may find it challenging to sit for long periods. Common symptoms of long Covid include dizziness, brain fog, anxiety and depression and mental fatigue.

Anxiety and depression are commonly associated with all long-term conditions. Of the 15 million people living with long-term conditions, over 4 million also have a mental health condition.  So why does this matter for the future workforce?

The impact of long-term conditions in the workplace

Long-term conditions are more prevalent in older people; 58 per cent of people over 60 compared to 14 per cent under 40. We’re working longer, and older people make up a significant proportion of the ageing population. A third of workers are now over 50, according to Age UK.

There is a significant number of workdays lost through ill-health. In 2019/2020, an estimated 32.5 million estimated working days were lost due to work-related ill health. Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for most days lost due to work-related ill health. In addition, some 300,000 people with a long-term mental health conditions lose their job each year, many of whom may have stayed in work with better support.

Why employers should be supporting people with long-term conditions

Keeping people at work, including older people and those with long-term conditions, is key to plugging the employment gap – says research from the International Longevity Centre (ILC).

“People living and working longer is a good thing, and it needn’t be a disaster for the economy – quite the opposite. But if we don’t act fast to respond to the new normal of longer working lives, we will pay the price across every single industry,” said Professor Les Mayhew, Head of Global Research at ILC and Professor of Statistics at Bayes Business School.

Long-term conditions can impact an individual’s productivity and ability to stay in work, says the CIPD, adding that “Employers have a duty of care not to discriminate and provide an environment where employees are treated with respect.”

However, the same research finds that half of HR professionals (50%) think that line managers lack the knowledge and confidence to manage people with long-term conditions, and 38% report that they experience challenges in supporting managers to understand making reasonable adjustments. At the same time, it concludes that the impact of long-term conditions is lessened when work is designed and managed flexibly.

Clear Talents helps manage long-term conditions at work

ClearTalents is a digital tool that enables employees to identify disabilities and long-term conditions and where they need reasonable adjustments. It creates a confidential diversity profile to let work know what changes an employee needs.

ClearTalents can be used by organisations of any size free of charge for up to 50 users. Licenced versions are available to unlock additional users, dashboards, and case management capabilities.

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