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Working together on a return to work

A community support agency worker who was injured on the way to work was able to return with the help of employer support and a positive attitude.

A service coordinator for a Gold Coast community support agency fractured her right ankle and ribs in a car accident on her way to work in July 2012.

She was taken to hospital where she had surgery on her ankle, and was later discharged wearing a moon boot and supplied with aids for home, including a wheelchair as her fractured ribs made using crutches difficult.

The worker continued under the care of the fracture clinic at the hospital and underwent physiotherapy. They did regular x-rays and the worker advised the specialists at the hospital that the injury was not progressing.

Early in the claim, private treatment was discussed with the worker and she started to see a treating GP and was referred to a treating specialist. The treating specialist advised that the fracture was not uniting and there was another fracture that required surgery.

Soon after the surgery, the worker said she noticed a change in her symptoms and felt like she was finally getting better.

More x-rays were done and, once the moon boot was removed, the worker started post-surgery physiotherapy.

The worker was able to return to work on suitable duties two months after the accident, and continued to work until her second surgery, after which she took time off to recover, before returning to work on suitable duties.

She has now completed a graduated return to work on full duties and hours.

The worker's employer was very supportive of her from the date of her injury and kept in contact with her and WorkCover throughout the return to work process.

The employer went beyond simply providing suitable duties; they also provided aids in the workplace to ensure the worker was comfortable and changed some processes so that the worker was not required to walk too much.

As she was unable to drive for a while during her recovery, the employer arranged for other staff to take the worker to and from work. This was then formalised as a service offered by the employer and this assistance continued until the worker was able to drive again.

Although the worker had sustained injuries as a result of the accident, underwent three surgeries and a period of time off work, she maintained a positive attitude and was keen to be back at work.

For more information on the return to work process and the health benefits of work, contact WorkCover Queensland on 1300 362 128.