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Planning for adjustments

Important questions

  • What needs to be considered due to the brain injury?
  • Are there any specific tasks that are likely to require support?
  • Has the person been asked about their needs?

Examples of adjustments

Physical supports: the use of ramps, handrails and disabled parking spaces. All paths should be cleared of unnecessary equipment and furniture. The Federal Government may provide financial assistance for workplace modifications for employees with disabilities.

Visual supports: the use of large print, good lighting,, increased natural lighting and glare guards on computer monitors. Vision specialists are available for advice, particularly for employees who have lost part or all of their vision.

Maintaining stamina during the workday is possible with flexible scheduling and longer or more frequent work breaks. Employees might have extra time and a self- paced workload to learn new responsibilities, with others available to cover for breaks and necessary time off. Job sharing and working from home are other examples of flexibility. Employment coaches are another way to support employees in the workplace.

Maintaining concentration is easier if distractions in the work area are reduced. Typical adjustments could include space enclosures, a private office or allowing the use of white noise or environmental sound machines. Increase natural lighting and reduce clutter in the employee’s work environment. Soothing music using a headset can be useful. Plan for uninterrupted work time and divide large assignments into smaller tasks and steps.

Organisation and deadlines are easier with daily ‘to do’ lists. Calendars can be used to mark meetings and deadlines. Helpful reminders can be sent via memos, email or weekly supervision. Use a watch or pager with timer capability or an electronic organiser.

Impacts to memory can be managed by providing minutes of meetings, or allowing the employee to record them. Notebooks, calendars and sticky notes are used to record information for easy retrieval. Employees may need both written and verbal instructions, as well as extra time for training. It is easier to remember where things are kept when they are labeled, colour coded or listed on a bulletin board. Instructions can be written on or near equipment when necessary.

Impacts to problem-solving are common after a brain injury.Picture diagrams like flow charts show problem- solving techniques. A supervisor, manager or mentor should be available to answer any questions and jobs can be restructured where necessary.

Working effectively with supervisors is achieved through positive praise and reinforcement. Written job instructions and clear expectations of responsibilities are very helpful. Allow for open communication to supervisors and establish written long-term and short-term goals. Develop strategies to support the individual and any challenges they may face post brain injury.

Difficulty handling stress and emotions can occur after a brain injury. Employees may need to seek support through counselling and employee assistance programs. Allow the employee to take a break to use stress management techniques to deal with frustration if required. Educate co-workers on brain injury and its impacts.

Attendance might be impacted by the need to attend regular medical appointments or due to managing fatigue. Employees may require leave for health problems, a self- paced workload and/or flexible hours. Working from home or part-time work schedules can help.

References and further information

Australian Human Rights Commission.

Adjustments In the Workplace for People with Disabilities