Many people today identify themselves by what they do for a living. They take pride in their jobs, work several years in a certain industry and consider their colleagues friends. But when that is stripped away by serious injury or illness, it’s easy to feel lost, discouraged and uncertain of the future.
Since 2012, Madonna has worked to combat a patient’s feeling of lost identity through the Work Re-entry Program, a comprehensive rehabilitation program that guides patients through the process of regaining the strength and tools they need to return to their occupation or volunteer work. Like all rehabilitation programs at Madonna, Work Re-entry is multi-disciplined, with a specialized therapy plan tailored to each patient that includes cognitive rehabilitation, job simulation intervention, adaptive techniques and employer education, among others.
“Our mission at Madonna is to help people return to as normal a lifestyle as possible,” said Virginia Schwietzer, COTA/L, Work Re-entry Program Leader. “For many of our patients, employment helps to fulfill basic human needs and also promotes well-being by providing a sense of identity and life satisfaction.”
The program works in a phased approach:
Readiness for Work Assessment
First collecting a comprehensive review of the person’s previous employment, any barriers returning to work, a neuropsychology assessment and an individualized return to work plan. A Readiness for Work Assessment is completed, which includes evaluation of the physical, cognitive and behavioral demands the patient’s job requires.
From there, the patient’s care team can determine if the patient is ready for a work simulation. The patient will have the opportunity to participate in a work trial, completing tasks similar to those in a real work environment by volunteering at Madonna. This allows the patient to apply their work-related skills and knowledge in a controlled environment.
“By addressing work re-entry in rehabilitation, we can assist individuals to a meaningful occupational and promote a greater quality of life,” Virginia said.
There are some requirements for patients to be eligible for the program: 1) they must be age 16 or older, 2) they must require skilled physical, occupational or speech-language therapy, and 3) they must be medically stable and able to tolerate at minimum three hours of activity per day.
Last year, Madonna completed 80 Readiness for Work Assessments, while 34 patients benefitted from a work trial opportunity, serving as volunteers in 11 different departments at Madonna.