Mater Group comprises of public and private health services and employs more than 7000 people across three Brisbane campuses. Historically, Mater did not have a favourable return to work record with limited support of suitable duties within the business, which led to high-cost claims.
Early intervention, medical support of the 'stay at work' principle as well as supportive, goal orientated injury management are keys in the improved Mater return to work performance.
An 'occupational capacity form' suite has been developed for both general capacity and tasks specific to work areas (for example clinical roles or kitchen roles). This form allows medical providers to 'tick and flick' information on a one-page document back to the rehabilitation team to ensure safe and appropriate suitable duties are sourced for the return to work plan. A psychological capacity form has also been developed due to the increasing number of psychological injuries over recent times.
Ongoing development of an inherent requirements database has been a focus for the rehabilitation team and this continues to grow. An inherent requirements document provides detailed information to a medical provider regarding the physical demands of specific roles which, in turn, will allow them to make an informed decision regarding the worker's capacity.
Mater Group has demonstrated a commitment to the return to work of injured workers, innovation in return to/stay at work (including implementing new return to work solutions, systems and programs), and improvement to an organisation's return to work culture. It now has the statistics and measures to prove how effective the return to work outcomes are compared to industry average.
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The Mater is a hospital and healthcare service, but we also provide education and medical research within the Mater group.
In 2011, it was identified that the Mater return to work rates were poor. We did not support workers to recover in the workplace, and consequently, our premiums were fairly hefty. So, we decided to implement a process to improve the return to work rates within the Mater.
We implemented a pilot process at Mater Private, which had a separate premium at the time. The process involved early incident reporting and having our workers assessed at the Mater Private emergency department for their capacity to work, and there was an expectation from higher legal management that suitable duties would be provided in the work area.
What was implemented was immediate reporting, so there was a lot of education to managers and to staff around letting somebody know if you've hurt yourself. From a rehabilitation advisor perspective, our team were involved right from the get-to. We would advise immediately if someone had been to the Mater Private emergency, and we would go across to the work area, sit with the manager and the worker, and determine the suitable duties they could do, write a plan, get the buy-in from all parties, sign it off, and get it underway.
We're now six years later. The process has moved from being a pilot to being organization- wide. Prior to the pilot being implemented, our stay at work rates were 25 percent for injured workers. Now, our stay at work rates are up around 80 percent for injured workers remaining at work after an injury, and what we're seeing is that our claims are shorter, and they're less severe, and so 98 percent of our workers will return to their pre-injury jobs.
Work is so much more than just going in and doing your tasks. Work is a social connection for a person. It gives you a sense of value, and you're adding value to other people, as well.
What I find rewarding about coming to work is helping people recover at work, get better from their injuries, and return to their normal jobs.