Continuing To Work

Being ill can mean you lose control, independence and the sense of feeling normal. Being a family carer can bring up many of the same feelings. Work can represent a sense of identity and self-reliance in an uncertain world. You or your carer may want to try to continue to work.

The personal experience of 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.

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.

Support that could help someone continue to work:

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

If you have an 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
  • continuing to go to staff meetings or functions (this can help to stop you from feeling isolated)
  • rest breaks
  • how to enable a smooth transition when it comes time to leave.

If you are a carer that would like to be employed or continue to be employed, there are a number of things that you can consider:

  • how to tell your workmates that someone you are caring for is ill
  • how your workmates can learn more about the caring role
  • negotiating a flexible shift roster
  • continuing to go to staff meetings or functions (this can help to stop you from feeling isolated)
  • talking to your employer about your caring role and the type of arrangements you might need, to balance the demands of caring and work
  • staying positive during your workplace discussions
  • seeking advice and support from the National Carers support and advisory service and from your local carers associations.

Last updated 24 January 2017