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University training programme receives Vocational Rehabilitation award

Wednesday 30 March 2016

The University of Salford, in collaboration with the Greater Manchester Public Health Network’s (GMPHN) Work for Health programme, has received an award from the Vocational Rehabilitation Association for its Healthy Work Conversations training programme and evaluation.

The training, carried out by a team of academics and researchers from the University’s School of Health Sciences, involved helping health and social care practitioners in routine practice to advise patients about returning to work after illness or injury.

This came on the back of research carried out by GMPHN’s Work for Health programme which suggested that individuals decide to stay in work or return to work very early on following illness or injury.  The GMPHN study found that these decisions were strongly influenced by family, friends and professionals and that work issues were not being routinely addressed.

Using the evidence base, GMPHN piloted a social marketing campaign in three Greater Manchester boroughs to raise awareness and normalise working with long term conditions. In 2014, Work for Health was awarded the Royal Society for Public Health, Health and Wellbeing award.  

The University’s training programme was aimed at encouraging a proactive approach through Healthy Work Conversations (HWCs) and the promotion of ‘work’ or ‘other meaningful occupation’ outcomes early on in routine practice. This was delivered to 185 health and social care practitioners in the Greater Manchester area who were well placed to offer anticipatory advice and support about work.

Funded by Health Education NW and supported by Greater Manchester Public Health Network, the University’s programme also considered the use of appropriate language and proactive strategies to support patients in communicating with their employers and other health and social care professionals in a positive and constructive way. 

The training programme took into account any individuals who may have never worked or believed that work was no longer an option for them, and looked at ways in which the practitioner might raise awareness of the benefits of work and help to shift perceptions.

The University’s researchers are planning further qualitative inquiries with some of the practitioners who attended the training regarding the obstacles and facilitators that they have encountered in putting their learning into practice. 

Speaking about the award,
Christine Parker, joint programme leader for the University’s MSc in Occupational and Vocational Rehabilitation, said: “This has been a real team effort. We're passionate about promoting Healthy Work Conversations and an upstream approach to vocational rehab and work-related health outcomes in routine frontline practice. There was some stiff competition so we are really thrilled to receive this award from the Vocational Rehabilitation Association.”  

Importantly, rolling out Healthy Work Conversations training  is identified in ‘Taking Care of our Health and Social Care in Greater Manchester’ which sets out how authorities intend to take charge of health and social care spending and decisions in the city region. 

Find out more

Liam McCallion

0161 295 4779