Work can help you to keep your sense of identity with a life-limiting illness

Being seriously ill can mean you lose control, independence and the sense of feeling normal. This can also be true for your Carer.  You or your carer may want to try to continue to work. There are things you may need to consider.

If you keep working, your personal and business relationships can be affected. Palliative care services may be able to help. They may have information for your workplace.

The personal experience of life-limiting illness becomes a public one when work colleagues are informed. Your illness will affect not only you but also the people that you work with. This is the same if your carer continues to work. Work colleagues can be unsure of how to respond. This can lead to communication problems. Some people will avoid important issues. Ignorance may cause people to be scared and distance themselves. The seriousness of the illness needs to be acknowledged. It needs to be talked about. This may avoid emotional stress within the workplace and for you.

Your palliative care team supporting you to keep working

What could help someone continue to work?

Talk to your manager or the human resources department about looking at some options.

If you have a life-limiting illness and want to continue to work, discuss things like:

  • how to tell your workmates that you are ill
  • how your workmates can learn more about your illness
  • how your colleagues can be supported
  • you can work a flexible shift roster
  • reorganising your work space
  • reorganising your work tasks or spread the work load
  • replacing or modifying any equipment that you use.

Cancer Council Australia has more suggestions on continuing to work that can also be useful with non-cancer illness.

If you are a carer that would like to be employed or continue to be employed, many of the items listed above should be considered for you too. You have rights at work and being aware of these is important.

Last updated 02 August 2021