RA and adjustments at work

Caspero Member Posts: 2
edited 26. Sep 2023, 08:16 in Living with arthritis

I am currently signed off but will need to discuss return to work and possible adjustments at some point. But I honestly cannot think of anything that would help. I work 99% of the time sitting in front of a computer, but have horrific neck pain, dislocated wrists and fingers, shoulder and elbow stiffness and intense fatigue. Any ideas please? Thank you


  • AlexO
    AlexO Member Posts: 2

    I've been through this process personally and also supporting others through similar situations in my role as a union rep. I'll make a few suggestions below but, if you've got a supportive employer, it will really help.

    I'd suggest that you request a referral to Occupational Health before your return so that they can help both you and your employer with your return. Often employers won't have much of an idea about the impact of arthritis, (particularly the fatigue aspect of it), and they are welcoming of any information that can help them to support you to sustain a return to work. Occupational Health would be likely to recommend adjustments such as:

    -A review of/change to your physical work environment - i.e. Different chair, keyboard, height adjustable desk (so you can alternate between sitting & standing) etc

    -A review of daily working practice - Depending on your role, they can suggest building in regular breaks into your working day to allow for movement/stretching etc. This can also help with 'Pacing' your working day which may help with the fatigue. Other potential changes could be a later start/finish to the day to help with 'getting going' in the mornings - I found this helpful when I need it.

    (You can also contact the Access to Work scheme directly. They should also be able to do a work-place assessment to help with the above & may also support your employer with some of the associated costs).

    Once you've got an OH report, you can meet with your employer/HR team to talk through how they can support you in your return and the ongoing process based on the contents of the report and any other information you may want to share about the wider aspects of your condition and also anything you may want to share from your consultant that may help.

    Any meetings & adjustments should be recorded and regularly reviewed as your condition may change over time.

    These kinds of adjustments may only help depending on the treatment you are receiving and where you are on your journey.

    There's some really good info here: https://www.versusarthritis.org/work-and-arthritis

  • Gadgetgirl
    Gadgetgirl Member Posts: 15

    Hi there . Definitely need to meet with your OH advisor. I have an ergonomic mouse and keyboard which is soft touch. I also use Dragon dictation software when replying to emails to cut out keyboard work. I have a special chair and foot rest, as well as a headset to answer the phone. There is lots that can be done and also there is a government scheme called access to work and you can even get support with taxis to and from the workplace, your OH advisor should know of this. Good luck

  • StevieB
    StevieB Member Posts: 8

    My work were very supportive. I do some work from home and had assessment. I now have an office chair, a stand to prop up my laptop, padded mouse mat, padded wrist rest and when using the computer I get up and walk around every 20 minutes. I normally work with vulnerable adults. And have had input about my risk assessment around my arthritis. It states that I should show individuals tasks and support them to do the task ( not doing the task myself), not lifting or moving heavy items, pacing myself and letting people know when I am struggling. So far this seems to be going ok. I don’t have sickness that often and change to easier tasks when struggling.