From unable to walk, to Monique’s most successful year at work – thanks to JobAccess
Image description: Monique sits in her ‘magic chair’. She wears a navy-blue polo shirt and smiles at the camera. Monique adjusts the armrest width, made easier on her body by elevating the height of the ‘magic chair’ seat so her torso and shoulders aren’t strained.
Monique finds her job very fulfilling. However, the impact of her diagnosis meant she had to stop working for some time while managing pain and fatigue. That’s where JobAccess stepped in to support Monique’s return to work.
A different part of life: the impact of diagnosis
Monique had been working in the assistive equipment space for some time when she started to experience pain and fatigue. Thinking it was just a part of life in your thirties, Monique pushed through until things progressively worsened and pushing through was no longer an option. In September of 2021, Monique was experiencing excruciating pain, to the point that she couldn't walk anymore.
Monique was diagnosed with severe neuropathic pain due to an autoimmune condition. Not only is this pain challenging to live and work with, but it also causes fatigue. "It was a different part of my life I had to accept. I had to slow down for the first time," said Monique.
Monique's condition required her to stop working completely for some time and then return at a limited capacity whilst she navigated her diagnosis and way forward. "It was trial and error along the way. My body was attacking itself. It destroyed me as a person," said Monique.
Monique was concerned she would have to change jobs, a possibility she was not open to. "Work was my escapism. I didn't want to step back from work, I find my work very fulfilling," she shared.
This is where JobAccess stepped in to support Monique with advice on reasonable adjustments.
Getting the right support through JobAccess
JobAccess provides free, expert and confidential advice on workplace adjustments to employers and people with disability. The JobAccess team includes range of field experts, including allied health professionals, who offer advice tailored to the person’s situation from the first point of contact.
Monique is an Occupational Therapist and works as a Territory Sales Manager for Permobil. She was aware of JobAccess through her previous work. She reached out to JobAccess for support in navigating her options to remain at work in her role with Permobil, who create advanced assistive solutions for people living with disability.
Monique was connected with JobAccess Professional Adviser and Occupational Therapist (OT) Chantal Hardey, who took the time to connect with Monique and understand her circumstances and challenges to support her in maintaining her job. "I remember when I filled out the form, Chantal picked up the phone and called me to get to know me and uncover how JobAccess could support me. It was a really good process."
In her work, Monique supports clients living with disability with tailored solutions, supporting them to live more enriching lives through assistive support. Her work involves standing, kneeling, lying on the floor and moving around. Hence, having the right equipment to support Monique in her work is vital.
Through her work, Monique also helps her clients living with disability to create better lives. "What really fills my cup is going to an appointment and leaving thinking, 'This is why I go to work'. If I can make some positive change for my client, that's all that matters," shared Monique.
Inactivity, overactivity and stress are big triggers for Monique's condition. There was a significant period when Monique was using a wheelchair at work, making her job challenging as she wasn't able to move around to support her clients. Monique's office chair also intensified her knee pain.
Back to work: supporting Monique with reasonable adjustments
JobAccess worked with Monique and her employer, Permobil, to find the right equipment and modifications to support Monique to remain at work whilst managing her pain and ensuring her wellbeing at work.
JobAccess funded assistive equipment, including a wheelchair and accessories, a ramp for Monique's work vehicle, and a supportive office chair (which Monique refers to as her "magic chair").
“Going back to work in my same role would not be possible without JobAccess”
This means that Monique can continue in her same role, with her support helping reduce the pain and fatigue from her condition, so much so that she can now stand and walk when she needs to. "Going back to work in my same role would not be possible without JobAccess. The thought of going into the office without my equipment was scary," said Monique.
Monique's condition then affected her hands, "Once again, JobAccess came to the party, funding a bag to hold my tools, so I don't drop them. Chantal was very responsive and helpful when I was in a very vulnerable place," said Monique. "Knowing that I can pick up the phone, send an email, or access the online portal as my condition fluctuates is very comforting and reassuring during difficult times," added Monique.
"JobAccess got me walking again," said Monique. "I can't do things the way I used to, but I have returned to full duties. Last week I was even able to travel to Melbourne for a work conference. This would not have been possible without my equipment."
Overall, Monique speaks highly of her experience with JobAccess, sharing her experience of a very supportive process from start to finish. "JobAccess provide a very fast response. They are very clear in their communication and having an OT that knows what they are doing really helped."
Monique's employer, Permobil, has also been supportive of Monique accessing JobAccess and having her equipment in the workplace.
Monique's condition is not going anywhere, but in February of this year, she was pain-free for the first time in years, to which she credits her JobAccess equipment. "If it weren't for the equipment provided by JobAccess, I wouldn't be in my role as I am. It's more than just equipment, it's more than physical support. It's mental support, too," said Monique.
Last year Monique had her most successful year at work on record, despite her challenges, stating, "This would not have been possible without JobAccess."
Contact JobAccess for advice and support with workplace adjustments
Contact JobAccess on 1800 464 800 to speak to our Advisers for expert, confidential and tailored advice on workplace adjustments. You can also submit an online enquiry through our website.