One of our readers at Injured Workers Support Network (IWSN) and A Workcover Victims Diary contributor, has taken considerable care in presenting feedback to the IWSN on how we can better support injured workers. It is well worth sharing. You can be assured ‘Will’ that your ideas are valued.
Here is my take on the Workers Compensation system and how Injured Workers and the IWSN can help each other.
Entering the Workers Compensation system is not a place where one will find a lot of compassion and support. The effects of being on workers compensation can be severe and are not limited to the actual injury sustained in the workplace. Reporting an injury can and will usually be treated with suspicion and blame placed on the injured worker. Hostility, Ignorance & Frustration are some of the strengths the Insurer and Employer will use against the injured worker in the hope of closing the claim as soon as possible.
An injured worker can develop deep feelings of Fear & Uncertainty which progress by loss of income, loss of being self-reliant and a sense of providing for one’s family. Deep Feelings of Guilt & Shame can progress as being seen by Employer, other Employees, Insurer and by the opinions of others, who can often view workers compensation recipients as looking for an easy ride. Anger & Frustration can progress due to the lack of empathy and at times open hostility shown via Employer, Insurance Co & RTW Coordinator & IME’s.
The longer an Injured Worker is in the Workers Compensation system the worse the experience can be these feelings along with a sense of isolation can become toxic. The injured worker often finds themselves in a position of hopelessness and the use of Alcohol and or Drugs may increase to suppress these feelings. Coupled with Families affected by this system which can become dysfunctional and lead to the break down of the family unit.
To fully understand the impacts of the system you have to be in the system either directly or indirectly as a family member, girlfriend, boyfriend and so on. Injured workers connecting and sharing their experiences on a regular basis may help ease the feelings associated through isolation and frustration. This can be done through the IWSN holding regular support meetings where people can feel safe to express their feelings and concerns with others who are in the same position. Once people start listening and relating to one and other further contact among themselves should be encouraged. A simple phone call or catch up over coffee can make a lot of difference to someone who may be isolated and disconnected from others.
The IWSN needs strong advocates who can relate to injured workers via direct or indirect experience. Additional forms of support can be regular contact via email, phone, internet and also by having guest speakers attending the support meetings from other organisations be it Unions or MP’s. The IWSN can also be used a point of support for insurance related enquiries, this may help injured workers from being bullied & manipulated by case managers and their employers. The effects of IME’s can even be addressed for example, an injured worker attending an IME with another injured worker or IWSN support person will take away the isolation and frustration that these appointments can have.
Please remember I am not a Rhodes Scholar or anything like that I just thought I would have a stab at it as the more suggestions there are from someone in the system the better. Any advice or information that you can provide on what I have mentioned please feel free to do so.
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