Background The Eurobarometer1 states that RMDs affect 22% of the general population which means that 10 million people are affected in Spain and more than 600.000 people in the autonomous region of Galicia where our organization, LRG, works.
Knowing that 50% of people with RMDs are currently unemployed because of their condition2, only part of them have the legal work incapacity recognized and receive a pension. This means that RMDs not only affect the health but also the socio-economic status. Most of this people could stay at work and are willing to do so if some arrangements are made like cutting down hours, work place adaptations, flexible schedule, etc.3
Most employers are lacking information on how these conditions affect the employee's hability, desire and need to work and how to make the necessary adaptations for not loosing this person from the work force.
Objectives Making the employer more aware of the positive aspects of keeping all the employees including people with RMDs not just at the work place but at full capacity, avoiding both absenteeism and presenteeism.
Helping the employer knowing about the needs of people with RMDs and the necessary adaptations for each of them.
Keep people with RMDs at work at the best possible conditions both for the employee and the employer, as efficiently and healthy as possible.
Methods The employee with RMD has 1 session with the psychologist and 1 session with the occupational therapist (OT) to identify the difficulties in continuing to be active into their work place.
LRG HP give personalized advise to the employer about the RMDs, the needs of the employees and how to facilitate them to stay at work and minimize the work incapacity due to their chronic condition. This kind of advise is given by the OT who has treaten the employees and knows all about their needs, goes to their work place to see what are the actual conditions, identifies manageable obstacles and talks to the employers during a pre-scheduled meeting. After, an architect specialized in accesibility offers specific architectural and ergonomic solutions for adapting the work place.
Also peer support is provided by LRG in group meetings and activities of the organization.
Results The results of this project are shown in the increase of the employees' self-confidence in their capacity to stay at work and also they are more aware of their solvable and non solvable limitations.
During 2016 we advised 14 associates of LRG, 5 of those 14 employees (1/3) stayed at work or returned to work after the consultancy.
Conclusions This kind of actions are neccesary to make the work places more adaptable and increasing the number of people with RMDs to start a work live, to stay or go back to work.
Peer support within a patient's association is key to create a secure environment for the employees who find relief in seeing other people with RMDs having a sustainable work life.
European Commission. Health in the European Union. Special Eurobarometer 272e. 2007.
Anna Klak, Filip Raciborski and Piotr Samel-Kowalik. Social implications of rheumatic diseases. Reumatologia 2016; 54(2): 73–78.
Bevan, S., Passmore, E., Mahdon, M. (2007). Fit for Work? Musculoskeletal Disorders and Labour Market Participation. UK: The Work Foundation.
Acknowledgements Employers: SERGAS, Correos, Inditex Group, Estrella Galicia.
Disclosure of Interest None declared