This article was written by our member Astriid
Living with the struggles of chronic pain can affect every single aspect of your life. For those who haven’t experienced it for themselves, there can often be a real lack of understanding as to just how debilitating such an experience can be. As such, it isn’t surprising that much of this uncertainty spills over into the world of work.
Past reports have indicated that 41% of people who attended pain clinics have shared that their pain has prevented them from working, and 13% have had to reduce their hours. Unfortunately, this statistic isn’t surprising. Living with the effects of pain is such an invisible battle, and in the past, there has been a real lack of support and guidance in ensuring workplaces are as accommodating as possible.
For me, as a working-age person who experiences relatively mild but chronic pain as part of my long-term condition, I believe one of the most significant changes a workplace could make would be ensuring line managers are aware of and comfortable facilitating communication around your requirements. Knowing that your employer is committed to supporting you, providing reasonable adjustments, and ensuring your needs are met would not only be beneficial on a practical level: it would no doubt have a transformative effect on a person’s mental health too. By not having to worry so much about concealing or negotiating the symptoms of their pain on top of managing their daily tasks, they may feel more at ease to get on with their working day and perform their role to the best of their ability.
Other adjustments that may be helpful for those living with pain include the ability to work remotely, reduced or part-time hours, flexibility with daily or weekly commitments, adaptive equipment such as voice technology or ergonomic chairs, and adjustments to typical activities during the working day, such as taking on more desk-based work as opposed to more physically demanding tasks.
So, if a person with chronic pain happens to be seeking work, where would be the place to look? How could they find employers and opportunities committed to meeting their needs and nurturing their talents? Enter Astriid, a platform for connecting chronically ill workers with opportunities that match their skills. We support and advocate for what we term ‘the invisible talent pool’ by sharing opportunities from our register of businesses and organisations. Each of these, by joining our platform, has indicated a genuine openness to explore the talents of workers with long-term conditions, and made a real commitment to ensuring their needs are met.
By no means will everybody living with chronic pain be physically able to work; I know all too well that dealing with debilitating symptoms is a full-time job in itself! However, for those who are willing and able, here at Astriid we believe the benefits of work are far more than simply the wages paid. When approached correctly, the right opportunities can elicit a sense of purpose, and be incredibly rewarding. Working can shape our identities and help us feel fulfilled, and of course, there’s so much that the employment sector can gain from utilising the skills of the chronic illness population too.
People with chronic pain face so many invisible challenges, but they have so much to offer as well. If you feel ready to share your talents and skills by exploring inclusive work opportunities, there’s no better time to join the Astriid platform. Please do head to the Astriid website to sign-up and find out more, and if you have any questions, you can contact Astriid here. Be sure to say hello on social media too.