When the pandemic hit, this hotel housekeeper had no job to recover at, but Recovery Partner’s Jarrod didn’t give up trying to help her.
A hotel with no guests
Of the many Australian industries impacted by COVID-19 over the last 18 months, the hospitality sector was arguably one of the hardest hit. For *Rosie, a housekeeper in a hotel chain that hosted mainly overseas visitors, border closures and Victoria’s Stage 4 lockdown meant the job she planned to return to as she recovered from a broken ankle was no longer available. ‘Rosie had fallen on some steps at work in late 2019 and sustained a fracture to her left fibula as well as soft tissue damage,’ says Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant, Jarrod Kelly. ‘She underwent surgery and began physiotherapy, but then COVID-19 began and everything stopped.’
Rosie’s access to treatment was limited
Not only was the hotel she’d been working at not receiving guests, Rosie also had difficulty accessing the treatment that would assist in her recovery, explains Jarrod.
‘Normally, someone with an injury like Rosie’s would undergo intensive physiotherapy, but Rosie couldn’t go to the physio during lockdown. She did receive some assistance via Telehealth, but it wasn’t as effective as in-person treatment would have been.’
What’s more, the lockdown restrictions on activity meant that Rosie’s ability to exercise and build her strength back up in her ankle was also limited, says Jarrod.
Normal circumstances didn’t apply
Although progress was slow, Jarrod made sure he kept in touch with Rosie, her employers and other stakeholders throughout the lockdown and tried to find ways to keep some momentum up so Rosie didn’t get disheartened.
‘The hotel wasn’t really operating normally, so it was hard to find any suitable duties Rosie could do. Generally, we prefer for people to make a safe, early and graduated return to work to build their capacity over time, but this just wasn’t possible. Rosie still had significant swelling at the site of her injury and couldn’t really do the physical work she had been doing.’
Slow and steady wins the race
As restrictions eased, Rosie was able to access more treatment, but it was still insufficient, Jarrod says, and her ability to work was, too.
‘As domestic travel opened up, Rosie could return to work, but she only had capacity for an hour at a time initially. We struggled a little to find the right mix at first, as too much work would aggravate Rosie’s injury and prolong her recovery, but we soon found a good balance and the employers were great about making any adjustments that were necessary to cater for Rosie’s needs.’
Flexibility and leadership were essential
Ultimately, it was important to be flexible and think laterally about how to act effectively when the conditions of the pandemic turned plans upside down, Jarrod says.
‘I think I did have to direct things more and take the lead a little more in this case, as nobody really knew how to respond to such extreme circumstances.’ We’re pleased to report that this flexibility paid off, and Rosie has now been back at work in her pre-injury capacity for over 13 weeks, the full period for which someone’s return to work can be deemed successful.
Get in touch
Thanks for taking such a responsive approach, Jarrod! We’re glad Rosie had you in her corner. If you’re an insurer or employer and you like the sound of this dedicated service, get in touch with Recovery Partners by calling 1300 647 789 or sending an email through to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals and organisations involved.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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