When COVID-19 struck, this injured airport worker was left without a workplace to continue his recovery in, until Recovery Partners helped him uncover new work options and secure a placement through the Connect2Work program.
Thousands of jobs in the aviation industry were lost due to COVID-19
When COVID-19 arrived on Australian shores, workers in the aviation industry were among the first to experience the impact on employment. With dwindling numbers of flights coming or going domestically or internationally, thousands of staff in airports and affiliated services were stood down.
Among them was *Charlie, a passenger services staff member in Sydney. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Charlie had been pushing a wheelchair in the course of his duties when he injured his knee, sustaining a meniscus tear. He’d been in his role for several years and with the company for more than six.
As Charlie recovered from his injury, his industry buckled. ‘It was a tricky time for Charlie to be recovering,’ says Stephen Tziotsis, Recovery Partners Rehabilitation Consultant. ‘He underwent physio to treat his knee and we kept upgrading his capacity for work, but by the time he was at that stage, there was no job to go back to.’
Connect2Work offered a new opportunity
After a period of waiting to see how the pandemic unfolded, the insurers in Charlie’s case came to the conclusion that international flights were unlikely to pick up anytime soon, and it would be better if Charlie could find alternative employment. ‘The insurers agreed to a Connect2Work trial, so then it was over to Sanjeev Lal, an Employment Consultant at Recovery Partners, to help find a host employer,’ says Stephen.
The Connect2Work program is a SIRA initiative that arose from the employment challenges of COVID-19. Connect2Work is for injured workers when their pre-injury employer is unable to offer suitable work due to COVID-19, or they’re looking for new employment. It involves a voluntary short-term work placement with a host employer, who receives a small financial incentive for their efforts.
‘The Connect2Work program is designed to help workers continue their recovery at work, which is something we’re committed to at Recovery Partners,’ says Stephen. ‘This approach is sometimes called early intervention. The research clearly shows that it’s always best for workers to make a safe return to work as soon as possible after an injury. The longer a worker is away from employment, the harder it is to get back into it. The outcomes are better across the board if workers can continue their recovery while undertaking suitable duties at work, whenever possible.’
Recovery at work gives workers better outcomes
Sanjeev helped Charlie to update his resume and learn job seeking skills, while also making cold calls to employers to sound them out about the possibility of hosting through the Connect2Work program. ‘Charlie had customer relations experience from his role in passenger services, and he also had IT experience, so Sanjeev was able to secure him an administrative role with a marketing and promotions company where he could use that skill set,’ Stephen says.
‘Charlie’s currently halfway through the trial and it’s going well. The employer said it could be extended, but even if it’s not, there are still a lot of advantages in this placement for Charlie. It’s an opportunity for work conditioning, as he is able to get back into the rhythm and routine of a working lifestyle. The work is mostly sedentary but with some light duties, so Charlie can extend the range of motion in his knee. He can flex his cognitive skills in new ways, get some new experience and socialise with other adults in his community.’
The future looks positive for Charlie
With this experience and a reference from the host employer under his belt, Charlie will be able to apply for a wider range of jobs. He will also enter a strength-based conditioning program with an Exercise Physiologist to continue building the strength in his knee.
‘When the world opens up again, there may be an opportunity for Charlie to return to his former position at the airport,’ says Stephen. ‘But, he’s not sitting around and waiting for that to happen, because nobody knows when that will be. The Connect2Work placement gives Charlie a way to use his recovery time well, making new connections, building his skills and strength and opening up new options for his future employment. I’m glad Sanjeev was able to secure this opportunity for him and I’m confident Charlie will make the most of it.’
Can we help your client?
Well done to Sanjeev, Stephen and Charlie for this proactive step in a tricky situation. If you’re from an insurer and you have a client who could use the support of consultants like Sanjeev and Stephen, or you’re an employer who would be happy to host recovering workers, please get in touch with Recovery Partners by calling 1300 647 789 or emailing email@example.com.
*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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