Offering support to employees through challenging times

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

April 08 2015

Upon reading the BBC News website today [worth reading] I was made aware of the number of people in the UK who suffer from dementia, and I think more people need to learn and understand what and how dementia can affect us. It made me realise, due to the everyday deadlines of life in general, we never give much thought to health issues that may be happening in the personal lives of our employees - and with the staggering number of people that dementia affects, it surely must be a condition that requires our full attention and support. Quite naturally, many employees will withhold discussing personal problems or issues that impact their lives, and we may also feel uncomfortable talking to our colleagues about sensitive issues. However, without intruding, employers have a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of all employees and there will be certain signs that may indicate that there is something wrong with an employee. You may feel it is not for you to intrude with personal issues that affect your employees and yes you do have to tread sensitively, however if you feel or believe that their behaviour is impacting the workplace then it may be a good idea to have an informal chat with the individual. It may be that they need an opportunity to talk - whether this is to you or an occupational health expert, or just somebody who they feel comfortable with. However it brings me back to dementia, the recent awareness campaign made me realise that a lot of people live with the condition and continue to work, certainly up to the point where they feel able - and I admire them for maintaining their independence. They are courageous and inspirational. I believe that as employers or managers, or even just as human beings, we have an obligation to help and provide support for those who are in need of it. As in life you just never know when somebody is going to need the help of their employer, especially during times that can be challenging. I think whether dementia impacts an individual or whether it is affecting a family, your employees will rely on your help and support - often at short notice. So my final advice is that raising awareness of dementia, especially in the workplace, is a real step forward in tackling any stigmatism surrounding the condition. Employers need to make sure that they themselves and their management are mindful and can be in a position to offer help and support to those that are affected. Resources: Dementia UK - http://www.dementiauk.org/information-support/ NHS - http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia-guide/pages/dementia-help-and-support.aspx

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