We need to be sensitive and support those with disabilities and long-term conditions, writes Verity Green, co-chair of the CSP’s DisAbility network
What motivated you into the area of physiotherapy?
Was it the thought of paperwork, challenging NHS systems, or was it about making a difference for people and even animals?
We may have different motivations, but we all share a common bond: we work with others to improve or prevent conditions caused by injury or ill health ‘distress’ which impact on people’s lives. We are a compassionate profession.
The Compassionate Mind Foundation defines compassion as: “...a sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it”.
Having a wish to prevent the suffering of others through illness or injury seems straightforward and a core part of our training. What does this mean however when working alongside colleagues with disabilities and long-term conditions, and for ourselves?
In our lifetime most of us will acquire a disability or long-term condition; more likely during our working lives rather than in childhood.
With packages of support such as disabled students allowance reducing barriers to higher education, we are now seeing students who have experienced disability throughout their childhood entering the profession. However, are colleagues who become disabled in later life receiving similar levels of support?
How does ‘distress’ display itself in the workplace in relation to barriers for those with disabilities and long-term conditions? What compassionate action is needed from individuals, the team and wider employment ‘systems’?
Human beings are not designed to be alone - together, we are stronger. My encouragement to you all is to consider what action you can take to positively influence your workplace.
This might mean reviewing your own needs or looking to the wider team.
I can say, without hesitation, that in a supportive team, I thrive. When the support is not there, I shrink.
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