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Q - Employment and Vocation

Canadians Likely to Influence Practice 1. Institute for Work and Health: Conducts and shares research that protects and improves the health of working individuals. Research produced at the Institute for Work and Health is tailored to policy-makers, workers and workplaces, clinicians, and health and safety professionals. www.iwh.on.ca 2. WORKink: Canada-wide network of organizations and individuals that promote and support meaningful and equitable employment of people with disabilities. www.workink.com 3. Ontario Disability Employment Network: The Employment Services Team also works with potential employers to understand their environment, culture and skills required for each position; and to facilitate an ideal job placement for the client. www.odenetwork.com 4. Arif Jetha, PhD (Candidate), Toronto: Research on the experience of finding and maintaining work among young adults living with SCI, and rheumatic disease, during the transition to adulthood. Filling the Gaps As highlighted in this chapter, individuals with SCI face considerable challenges to finding and maintaining paid work. In order to build on current gaps in research and improve practice, several steps can be taken: Research and inovation First, population-level research should be conducted to gain a greater understanding of employment rates among working-aged Canadians living with SCI, and the complex interaction between personal, health and environmental factors. The SCI Community Survey, currently being administered to Canadians with SCI, will provide an important understanding of the employment rate, various factors related to involvement in work, and reasons for not working.23 Secondly, measures of employment outcomes require development. Research is required to move beyond measuring employment status to access measures of work productivity, range of tasks required for work, and changes made to work because of health and work-life balance. Several work productivity measures have been designed for other populations living with musculoskeletal conditions, which can be adapted and applied to research on individuals living with SCI. Thirdly, vocational rehabilitation practice for Canadians with SCI can be improved. Several approaches have been identified to facilitate the return-to-work process. However, more work is required to understand which approaches are most effective and in which contexts. Furthermore, applying the ICF VR Core Set to practice will be important to acknowledge the multiple domains that can influence employment participation, and to help align with international standards. Elimination of bariers Increased opportunities for vocational and/or skills-based training should be offered for individuals living with SCI. Vocational rehabilitation can provide tools to manage health, while working to overcome environmental barriers to employment. In particular, greater incentives should be provided to access job retraining and educational opportunities, especially for those on disability supports. What is more, employment/ training opportunities should be made accessible to all Canadians living with SCI, regardless of geography. Greater funding should be allocated to community organizations like CPA Ontario, which offers comprehensive vocational counselling to individuals living with SCI. Such organizations are knowledgeable on both their employment needs, and existing government policies; and are important in creating connections between jobseekers and employers. At the policy level, disincentives, including access to health benefits for individuals with SCI regardless of employment status, should be minimized. Accessibility and employment standards require greater enforcement, and ought to be improved to ensure accommodations are made to the physical work environment (e.g., improved transportation and wheelchair accessibility) and work conditions that support employment (e.g., flexible schedules and part-time work with benefits). What is more, employers should be provided with information regarding the technical and financial resources available to improve the physical and social environment of their employees with SCI. EMPLOYMENT AND VOCATION | BODY STRUCTURE AND FNUCTION 183


Q - Employment and Vocation
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