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A gradual return to work after major cranial surgery integral to help Jan’s* body and confidence recover

Before her surgery, Jan was a longstanding employee of a Government Department, who loved her people-facing role. She was referred for assistance with Konekt, after a cancer-related craniotomy.

Jan had returned to work on part-time hours but continued to experience side effects as a result of her continuing recovery. She experienced speech impairment, extreme mood swings, difficulties with memory and concentration, reduced coordination and balance and extreme fatigue.
These difficulties were a barrier for Jan returning to her old job and continuing to engage the people she so loved to help. She had lost her confidence.

Jan’s supervisor Steve was trying his hardest to support the return to work program but wasn’t sure how to progress – nothing they had tried was helping Jan achieve success.

Together with Jan, Steve and Jan’s treatment team, the Konekt Consultant developed a clear objective – to gradually build up Jan’s hours at work by improving her stamina and stabilising her emotional state.

The first step involved education – helping Jan and Steve understand the impact of the cancer, the brain injury, and the process of recovery. This helped them understand the importance of rest and of specialist interventions to help with identified barriers.

Particular focus was given to the importance of work as part of her recovery – with work driving Jan’s feelings of identity, confidence, purpose and general health.

Education also helped Jan and Steve understand that her ‘brain fog’ was normal, a commonplace side-effect of chemotherapy – and that Jan needed more structure in her workplace plan to “train her brain” to be able to focus on complex activities.

Secondly, Jan faced a practical issue that was really affecting her confidence – her speech. One of the most important elements to her recovery was engaging with a speech therapist for treatment. They worked with Jan to restore her command and control of voice and language skills.

Konekt graded both the increase of hours and days, the complexity of the duties being undertaken by Jan in order to promote her cognitive abilities, assist to build stamina and to stabilise her emotional state. Her Consultant also worked with Jan on her workplace ergonomics to ensure she was comfortable and able to maximise her capacity and output.

The key learning for both Jan and Steve was the importance of patience and communication.

Jan achieved a great outcome from this intervention – after a 6-month program of gradual progression, she achieved a full return to her normal work. Fearing she would have to leave the role she loved, Jan needed just a few critical interventions set her on the pathway to success.

At Konekt, we make a difference by helping Australians into work, back to work, and be well when at work, to maximise workforce participation.

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