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Episodic health conditions challenge workplace disability management systems

Employers are recognizing that they need a new model of disability management to support workers with episodic health conditions, according to a new Institute for Work & Health study. Because episodic health conditions are often characterized unpredictable periods of illness and disability, they can raise a host of issues for workplaces—including issues related to privacy, stigma and trust. Dr. Monique Gignac explains more about our findings in an interview published in At Work.

Read the At Work article
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Workplace perspectives on challenges accommodating mental and physical health conditions

Results from our ACED research into organizational perspectives on communicating about and accommodating episodic disabilities in the workplace has been published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a diverse group of workplace stakeholders—including supervisors, disability managers, union representatives, occupational health representatives and labour lawyers—this research points to areas where workplace disability support processes could be enhanced to improve the sustainability of employment among workers living with episodic disabilities.

Get the journal article
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Message from ACED partnership about episodic disabilities and work during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new concerns for people who are working with chronic episodic disabilities and may be more vulnerable to ill health than others during epidemics. An estimated 27 per cent of the working population has a chronic episodic disability. Yet, due to their intermittent, fluctuating and sometimes invisible nature, many episodic conditions go unnoticed in the workplace. For a multitude of reasons, people with episodic conditions often do not disclose their condition to their employers or co-workers. 

It is important for workplace parties to understand that people with episodic disabilities may be at greater risk if they are exposed to co-workers or the… Read more.

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People at greatest risk during COVID-19 can benefit most from supportive workplaces

In the planning of health and safety responses to COVID-19 and the ultimate reopening of workplaces, employers should be aware of the unique needs of workers with underlying health conditions. Dr. Arif Jetha, a member of the ACED research team, addresses this issue in the most recent edition of At Work.

Read more on the IWH website
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ACED partners offer COVID-19 resources

ACED has compiled a listing of partner organization's COVID-19-related resources aimed at informing and offering guidance to individuals with episodic conditions, as well as those who support them.

Go to the resource page
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Two new tools available on managing arthritis and work

Not everyone with an episodic disability like arthritis needs support at work, but getting the right support can make a difference to work satisfaction and productivity. The Arthritis Society recently added two new tools—developed in collaboration with the ACED partnership—to its collection of resources on managing arthritis and work. The tools are designed to help people consider whether to disclose a condition at work and to plan a conversation about workplace needs as they relate to arthritis.

Go to the ACED partner tools
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ACED PhD student awarded three-year graduate scholarship

Gemma Woticky, a research assistant with the ACED project, has received a three-year Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to continue her studies. Woticky is a doctoral student in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences Division at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Under the supervision of ACED’s project lead, Dr. Monique Gignac, Woticky is studying the lived experiences of employees with a disability and their co-workers to understand communication and behavioural strategies, as well as workplace cultures, related to disability support and accommodation at work.

Learn more about the ACED project team
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ACED seeking supervisors or managers to test new tool

Do you supervise an employee receiving or needing support for an episodic disability or health condition? If so, we want your input on a new tool being developed by ACED called the Job Demands and Accommodation Planning Tool (JDAPT). The JDAPT is designed to foster discussion and problem-solving between employees and their managers in order to meet employee needs for workplace supports. Your input will help make this tool practical and useful so that more workplaces can support employees with intermittent, chronic health conditions. We are testing the tool now until the end of April 2020.

Find out how to get involved
Wavelengths of various magnitude, to represent differing dynamics of disability

New Statscan report focuses on episodic disabilities

Using data from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, Statistics Canada has taken a close look at the demographic, employment and workplace accommodation profiles of people with episodic disabilities in a report called The Dynamics of Disability: Progressive, Recurrent or Fluctuating Limitations. In the report, released in December 2019, Statscan compares relatively stable disabilities that result in consistent and unchanging limitations with three categories of episodic disabilities: those with progressive, recurrent or fluctuating limitations. It refers to the concept of different types of changing limitations as "disability dynamics."

The main findings of the… Read more.

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ACED members' expertise informs federal report on episodic disabilities

ACED project director Dr. Monique Gignac of the Institute for Work & Health, as well as ACED partner members Julie Kelndorfer of MS Society of Canada and Tammy Yates of Realize, were among those who provided expert testimony in late 2018 to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) as part of HUMA's exploration of the needs of people with episodic disabilities. Based on their and others' testimony, the standing committee made 11 recommendations in a March 2019 report entitled Taking Action: Improving the Lives of Canadians Living with Episodic Disabilities.

This… Read more.

Senior woman artist at work

ACED partner video offers advice for workers with arthritis

Feeling tired, stiff or achy after work is something many of us have experienced. But having arthritis can make these symptoms part of everyday living – during work and after. By speaking to individuals with arthritis, researchers have learned about what helps them to manage their symptoms inside and outside the workplace. Dr. Arif Jetha, a scientist at the Institute for Work & Health and a member of the ACED research team, shares these approaches in a new video from the Arthritis Society.

Watch the video
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ACED handout useful for sharing project information

The ACED project team has created a downloadable handout that makes it easy to share information about the project with others. Called "The ACED primer," the one-page, double-sided handout explains what the partnership is all about by asking and answering seven questions, from why the ACED project is needed to the people, organizations and funders behind it.

Get the handout