How to Support a Disabled Work Colleague
Roughly 7 million people in Britain of working age have some kind of disability, whether this be physically or mentally. It is important that disabled employees feel well supported at work and that reasonable adjustments are made to enable them to perform their roles comfortably and to the best of their ability. It is also a legal requirement to ensure that disabled individuals are treated equally and have access to the same job opportunities as everyone else, as well as not being discriminated against. Below are some ways in which employees can do this.
Understanding their condition
One of the first ways in which you can begin to support them is by thoroughly understanding their condition, and how this affects their personal and working life. For example, you may have a team member who has suffered a brain injury which impacts how they work, Without understanding their disability, it is impossible for the employer to support the individual to the best of their ability, as they cannot grasp completely the effect this has on them. It is important to remember that many conditions are not visible, and it is a good idea to speak to them and see how it affects their everyday life, and not just do general research into the condition alone. This will help show them that you care, and are willing to go above and beyond to retain them within your team.
Sufficient training for managers
Make sure management and other members of staff have the correct training and understanding to help them with supporting the employee with their needs. As a manager will be the first point of contact if they experience any issues, it is important to have a manager who is sensitive and sympathetic towards them, but also well equipped to handle any problems they may face. Having a positive and understanding culture across the team will also help the individual feel loved, supported and cared for, meaning they are more likely to come forwards if they begin to have any issues.
Make reasonable adjustments
Everyone is different and it is important to remember that different disabilities affect individuals in different ways. It is a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for a disabled individual in the workplace. This could include a number of things, such as the opportunity to work remotely if commuting becomes a problem for them, to accessibility ramps in the office, and disabled car parking spaces. It is vital that they are able to access the same job opportunities as non-disabled colleagues. These could be temporary or permanent adjustments and should be done proactively in order to minimise disruption. It will also prevent them from feeling uncomfortable, or as though their disability is causing an issue.