If you’re diagnosed with a neurological condition during your working life, one of your first questions may be, ‘can I keep on working?'
Employment is an important part of life for many people, not only for financial reasons but for maintaining a sense of purpose, social relationships and using skills and experience acquired over many years.
The question of whether to remain in the workforce may be a complex one, and the answer will depend on the nature and progression of your neurological condition, the type of work you do, and your financial, home and family situation.
Many people with neurological conditions leave the workforce prematurely when they feel that their symptoms are impacting on their ability to carry out their role as they did previously.
Studies show that people living with a neurological condition who access support and advice in relation to their difficulties at work can perform as effectively in their role as somebody without a neurological condition.
To continue working or not, things to consider
Telling your employer
If, when and how you tell your employer about your diagnosis is up to you. It may be helpful to talk first with an MSWA counsellor, who will be able offer advice and strategies for communicating your condition to your workplace.
Seeking support to keep working
In Australia it is unlawful to discriminate against a person with a disability in a range of contexts including workplaces. Employing organisations are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to workplaces and working conditions. These adjustments can only be made if you do inform your employer about your condition.
Practical support measures might include a parking bay closer to the building where you work; or more flexible work hours. Your duties might change, especially if your job involves some physical work.
Although you may be apprehensive about disclosing your condition to colleagues, you may be pleasantly surprised at the amount of support they give you.
Before making any decisions regarding work, talk with an MSWA counsellor, occupational therapist or other health professional about your situation. You may be able to you continue with work, or find an appropriate work-life balance that helps you maintain your quality of life.