Going Onsite and Hands-On for Better Return to Work Results
By Jeffery Smith, Director, Return to Work Services, The Standard
A couple of years ago, The Standard did some informal research to find out why many employers weren't following through on return to work recommendations. Most said things like, "We don’t know how. And we don’t have the time or the money."
In response to this employer feedback, The Standard decided to bring our solution to where the workers are. Our onsite stay at work/return to work program, launched in November 2008, places a Disability Resource Consultant (DRC) onsite at the workplace for willing large-case employers. The DRC is available at no direct cost to the employer – all they need is an office space and Internet connection.
The onsite advantage: real people, real results
Our DRCs are registered nurses, vocational case managers and other mental health professionals. They represent The Standard in the workplace, opening lines of communication and identifying issues long before they turn into disability claims. The DRC’s active role includes:
- Performing ergonomic evaluations
- Researching and recommending devices that adapt to employees’ needs
- Consulting on mental/psychiatric conditions
- Training your managers in stay at work/return to work issues
- Developing light-duty jobs that injured employees can do while they’re healing
The number of employers using our onsite stay at work/return to work program continues to grow. Currently we have onsite representation in eight states.
Reasonable Accommodation Expense Benefit
Our stay at work/return to work (SAW/RTW) team continually evaluates new products, systems and environments that may meet the needs, abilities and limitations of disabled employees. Subject to our prior approval, our Reasonable Accommodation Expense Benefit provides up to $25,000 of an employer's expenses toward work-site modifications that result in a disabled employee staying at work or returning to work after a disability.
A hands-on success story
On April 1, 2009, The Standard integrated an onsite stay at work/return to work program with a customer that operates frozen food production and distribution facilities nationwide. From April 1 through December 31 of 2009, our onsite consultant assessed a total of 256 employees. Of those, 148 benefited through either SAW or RTW. This 58.2 percent success rate means that one out of every two people was able to either stay at work or return to work.
The Possibilities Center: a hands-on toolbox
The recently expanded Possibilities Center, located in our headquarters in Portland, Oregon, includes a showcase of equipment and specialized office furniture designed to help people with disabilities get back to work or stay at work. According to Brian Kost, a veteran vocational case manager, "People love being able to try out the equipment. They’re excited to know we're on the pulse of ergonomic design."
To arrange a tour for yourself or your clients, simply contact me: Jeffery.firstname.lastname@example.org; 971.321.8479.
Our disability management team is staffed with experienced professionals, including:
- 32 Nurse Case Managers (NCMs) and 26 Vocational Case Managers (VCMs) proactively partnering with treating physicians and employees to promote a safe, speedy and productive return to work.
- Average 24 years of experience (average 9 years with The Standard)
- Professional certifications include: Certified Rehabilitation Counselors, Certified Disability Management Specialists, Certified Professional Disability Managers, Certified Ergonomic Evaluators, Certified Vocational Evaluators