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Tailored support - recovery your way

When we’re helping you and your employer with your claim and planning your recovery and return to work, it’s vital that we tailor the process to your unique needs.

There are two different approaches that are used to make sure you and your situation are treated individually. Both are equally important. They are called the biopsychosocial approach and a person-centred approach.

Biopsychosocial approach

When we use the term biopsychosocial, it means to ‘understand the whole person’. This is needed because your recovery from a work-related injury or illness may be different to someone else’s, even if the injury seems similar. Your injury can also affect separate parts of your life in different ways and to different degrees.

The biopsychosocial approach looks at three areas, which can overlap with each other:

Physical healthMoodCulture
Mental healthPersonalityFamily

All of these things should be thought about when planning your recovery and return to work. You may find you are affected in more than one of these ways. Everybody is different. Your employer, rehabilitation and return to work coordinator, or WorkCover will talk to you about your experience, so you feel supported and so solutions can be found that work for you and your situation.

Explore the sections below to better understand each area, possible challenges, and relevant solutions.

Some of the biological challenges might be that:

  • your health is in poor condition
  • the demands of the job are physically too much
  • more medical treatment is needed
  • you are only able to do limited activity.

We can approach these by:

  • making sure healthcare and treatment is available when needed
  • making sure treatment is based on evidence
  • focusing on getting you better and improving your functional ability (the way your body works and what it can do).
  • changing your work duties to suit what you’re capable of doing.

Some of the psychological challenges might be that:

  • you have a lack of confidence or belief in your ability
  • you have past experiences of trauma that continue to affect you
  • you're unable to cope with your injury or illness
  • you may have low resilience (ability to simply ‘bounce back’)
  • you might have thoughts that the situation is ‘unfair’
  • you may have a lack of trust.

We can approach these by:

  • helping you to change your behaviours
  • shifting negative thought patterns or beliefs
  • understanding your attitudes and beliefs
  • making use of counselling.

Some of the social challenges might be:

  • family pressures
  • negative attitudes in society towards poor health and disability
  • changes in your social life due to your injury or illness
  • a lower level of education
  • interference in your claim by a family member or partner.

We can approach these by:

  • making sure your employer is actively involved in the planning of your return to work with you
  • building a strong social network at home and in your workplace
  • working to make sure there are positive processes and attitudes in place at your organisation.

Person-centred approach

As the injured worker, you should be at the centre of your recovery and return to work planning. If you’re an employer, you should actively seek input from your worker and make sure the primary focus is on them.

This makes sure the process works well for the individual person and their needs and is more likely to succeed.

How do we apply a person-centred approach?

  • Any injury management program should be flexible so that it can be adjusted based on what the worker needs.
  • Make sure the worker takes part in planning and has the chance to talk about their goals and suggest their own solutions.
  • If a suggested solution is not possible, an employer should be clear about why and work with the worker to find another option.
  • All letters, emails, and other documents should be personalised.

If you want to find out more about how to apply both of these approaches, simply talk to your Customer Advisor at WorkCover.