Cognitive Functioning Difficulties: Supporting Individuals In Their Return to Work
Everyone has strengths. Everyone has areas they want to improve on. Using our strengths to build on those areas that we are less comfortable with is what helps us to grow – in skill and in confidence.
But what if your areas of development and your areas of strength change significantly as a result of a brain injury or medical condition?
How can you learn to cope with your altered cognitive functioning?
At Lexxic, we work with individuals who have experienced cognitive functioning difficulties as a result of a brain injury or medical condition. We aim to help them to understand their new areas of development and provide them with tools and strategies to support them with their return to work.
Whilst many of the clients we see have received excellent medical attention with their brain injuries or conditions, once they leave the care of the health service, they can feel alone. They may long for normality, but their future at work may feel uncertain. And that uncertainty can lead to fear, frustration and overwhelm.
FEAR – will I be able to return to my previous job?
FRUSTRATION – why can I not do the tasks that used to be so easy for me?
OVERWHELM – How can I get back to where I was before?
We support individuals to nurture their existing skills and support their difficulties through the use of strategies, assistive technology and coaching.
We take a three-stage approach at Lexxic.
Stage One – A cognitive functioning assessment helps to establish where the difficulties lie in the cognitive profile
Stage Two – A workplace assessment involves an in-depth discussion about the difficulties being experienced at work to identify appropriate adjustments
Stage Three – One-to-one coaching introduces strategies to manage those challenges
Why is this important?
Unfortunately, our brains are exhaustible resources! Introducing strategies to support individuals in their work role can help to reduce the strain on their short-term memory by providing them with tools to rely on. This can range from text-to-speech software, to enable them to listen and read written information simultaneously, to visual process maps to support them to follow step-by-step processes in a logical order.
How can employers help?
A cognitive functioning difficulty does not just affect the individual in isolation.
Employers are often concerned about the costs involved in adjustments for employees with cognitive functioning difficulties. But these do not have to be expensive, complicated or time-consuming!
The simplest, but most effective first action is to TALK. Understand their needs, their feelings and their concerns. This is often an unsettling and uncertain time for them and feeling supported by their workplace can make a real difference to their self-image throughout their recovery. At Lexxic, we recommend adjustments based on the individual’s reported difficulties, their job role, and their desired outcome. These adjustments may include adapted working pattern and duties, refresher training or assigning a mentor/buddy at work.
In addition to more practical solutions, the employee may also benefit from support from a mental health professional. Whatever the extent of their difficulties, they have experienced a potentially life-threatening event which is likely to have impacted their emotional wellbeing. Ensuring this is monitored and considered throughout their return to work will further support them to build up their confidence at work, and within themselves.
The time to act is now!
The increasingly ageing workforce means that we can reasonably expect to see a rise in employees experiencing cognitive difficulties as a result of brain conditions. As such, it is even more vital that employers build an environment which accommodates, welcomes and empowers individuals with a range of cognitive abilities.
If you would like more information on how Lexxic can help to support individuals experiencing cognitive functioning difficulties, or have any comments you would like to add, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.lexxic.com.
By Emma Humphris, Business Psychologist at Lexxic