MS employment stories
These real life stories of people over-coming the hurdles of working whilst living with multiple illustrate that with the right support it's not always necessary to abandon one's career.
Sue was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, when she was working fulltime in a bank. Over the first five years, Sue slowly decreased to working 29 hours per fortnight, and her roles moved sideways to accommodate changes in her skillset. Sue has had regular contact with the MS Employment Support Service since 2009. Sue’s mobility at work as well as issues with seeing her computer screen were becoming too much for her to manage.
An MS Employment Consultant assessed Sue’s situation, and this led to the purchase of a walker for use in the office, a cooling vest for hot summer months, a more suitable keyboard and a larger computer screen. These changes made a huge difference to Sue’s working life and allowed her to remain in employment independently.
When Sue’s multiple sclerosis progressed further, her Employment Consultant conducted another workplace assessment, and engaged with Sue’s Manager and the HR manager of the company. Through this collaboration, changes were made to Sue’s working environment which enabled her to remain employed.
The changes included an electric wheelchair and a hydraulic desk, to allow Sue to continue working in the office. Sue was also provided with a magnifier to assist her vision impairment and talking books for education and personal reading.
These tools allow Sue to work from home, as well as conducting her daily activities such as online banking from home. Accessing this technology and facilities, has enabled Sue to maintain employment, which helps her stay positive, stimulated and to have some purpose beyond managing her illness.
Cheryl had previously been employed as a Peri Operative Nurse until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010. She has been unable to continue with this work due to the severity of her symptoms. Cheryl struggled with severe fatigue, continence issues, poor balance that resulted in a few falls and she found walking any distance over 100m difficult.
Cheryl was also unable to stand for longer than 30 minutes. She was unable to access public transport due to her balance and mobility issues.
After the initial assessment a Vocational Assessment was completed, which identified nursing administration, medical reception, a modified nursing position and nursing educator as potential vocations based on her nursing knowledge, transferable skills and computer skills. It was also identified that Cheryl could work 8–12 hours per week, split into 4 hour shifts to manage her fatigue.
As part of this assessment an MS Employment Support Service Development Consultant met with Cheryl’s previous Supervisor, the Peri Operative and Surgical Services Unit Manager, to discuss roles at the hospital that would meet Cheryl’s skills and experience. The Development Consultant worked with Cheryl to modify her resume and targeted it to meet more suitable positions. The MS Employment Support Service also paid for Cheryl to up-skill and complete a Cert IV Training and Assessment.
After several unsuccessful applications and further discussion between the Development Consultant, Cheryl and the Peri Operative and Surgical Services Unit Manager, a new position of Pre-Operative Hold Nurse was created for the hospital to improve efficiency. This position was suitable for Cheryl as she had the theatre nursing experience to perform the role. Importantly, the Development Consultant helped Cheryl negotiate the hours to 12 hours over three shifts, and for Cheryl to be able to stand and sit and not have to walk long distances.
The Development Consultant then involved an Employment Support Consultant to assist Cheryl with Post Placement Support. Through consultation between the Unit Manager, Cheryl and the Development Consultant, strategies were put in place to ensure that Cheryl could manage her role and enjoy sustainable employment.