Suffering from a chronic illness does not deprive you of being able to develop the different spheres of your life normally, such as accessing a job. However, the lack of adaptation and inclusion in the workplace has an impact on these patients
the chronic diseases affect a one out of three people aged 16 to 64 in Europe; the lack of inclusion, however, remains a major cause for concern.
Thus, the Platform of Patient Organizations (POP) and the Malta Health Network (MNH) have elaborated the Guide ‘The management of people with chronic illness in the work environment’.
The aim is to make visible the situation of people living with a chronic disease and thus contribute to their full inclusion, both at work and social level.
Purposes of the guide
Among the purposes on which the guide, addressed to companies and employers, informs, are:
- The impact that produce chronic diseases in the work area.
- the needs of people with chronic diseases to achieve their integration into work teams.
- The emotional and social impact that produce changes in the work environment as a result of chronic diseases.
- the necessary tools to adopt and make the conditions and points of work more flexible to the particular needs of people with chronic conditions.
As pointed out by World Health Organization (WHO)chronic diseases are “those that have a long duration (more than six months) and a slow progression, are not transmitted from person to person and are therefore considered non-communicable”.
In this way, if society and the different systems do not sufficiently accompany people who have to live their whole lives in a situation of chronicity, the impact will end up damaging the vital spheres.
“When the disease arrives, we tend to think that life will no longer be the same, that we will not be able to do the same activities, that we will need help from another person, that we will not be able to contribute to family well-being, etc. This impact manifests itself in a more important way if the disease becomes acute, worsens or if moments of crisis occur”, explains the president of the POP, Carina Escobar.
This situation affects the emotional state of the people who live there and manifests itself fundamentally in the form of frustration, concern, anxiety i guilt.
Adapt the work environment
Although the majority of patients with chronic diseases can and want to enter the labor market, it is a reality that unemployment or dismissal affects these people more, according to Carina Escobar.
“Developing yourself in the workplace is a way to achieve a better quality of life, since feeling active and productive has benefits for physical and mental health. The Administration, companies, employers and workers must find the best way for the person with a chronic illness to develop their talent for the benefit of all”, he adds.
In this way, it is necessary for society, companies, employers and workers to join efforts to incorporate specific actions that protect people who have a chronic disease.
And it is that, as the two organizations point out, addressing chronic diseases in the workplace and promoting inclusion will lead to stronger economic growth, more profitable employment, less dependence on state benefits, less demands on the systems of health and more productivity.
Along these same lines, they maintain that different resources and tools have already been designed for companies and those in charge of workplaces.
“Fundamental to guarantee that people with chronic health conditions can maintain their employment under equal conditions or access to new positions in environments free of obstacles that could lead to abandonment or loss of employment,” they say.
Importance of patient associations
From the POP and the MNH they emphasize the importance of patient organizations in supporting people with a disease from diagnosis and throughout the life process.
In addition, they develop actions that help patients have a good quality of life, such as informing and raising awareness, counseling, providing social and psychological care, therapies, among others.