Advice for people with a long-term condition or disability
We asked people if they had any reflections that they wanted to share or advice for people with long term conditions or disability about working at the university.
The overwhelming response was to urge people with long term conditions or disability to talk to someone. This might include telling colleagues and managers or seeking support from occupational health or the Disability Support Service.
Asking for help
For some people, the first obstacle was recognising that they were not on their own and it really was okay to ask for help.
For many people we interviewed talking to their manager was one of the more difficult but most useful conversations that they had. Talking to managers can help the manager better understand what the person was experiencing. It also provided managers with opportunities to help, from providing "moral support" to referring staff to occupational health or getting in touch with the Disability Support Service.
Some people described how they initially tried to carry on without informing anyone or seeking any help or support. Charlotte told us that she was able to find ways to keep going and by the time she realised she needed help, she was already very poorly. Being so unwell meant that she struggled to know what was best for her situation at that time and so seeking help just became another source of stress and anxiety.
© Disability NarrativesCharlotte describes the difficulty of getting help when she was already very unwell.
To get the most out of a conversation with your manager, several people found they needed to be honest and realistic to themselves about their needs.
© Disability NarrativesDespite all the demands from academic life, Maeve is clear about putting her health first to manage her epilepsy.
As well as getting support from their managers, some people we spoke to accessed help from other sources, including occupational health, human resources, and disability support services. Jo Z said, "I wish I had been referred to [occupational health] much sooner" as she was "really impressed with the support" they provided. Contacting these teams can cause some people anxiety, as Susannah describes, but she soon realised this was misplaced and they were able to suggest ideas she had not previous considered.
Advice for people who are newly disabled
There was particular advice for people experiencing or learning of a disability for the first time.
Several people had been diagnosed with dyslexia or dyspraxia later in life. This presented particular challenges as they reflected on the difficulties they had experienced at school and work in a new light.
© Disability NarrativesLyn reflects on the difficulties of being dyslexic and how she has come to accept that it is okay to “be who you are”.
Other people shared how they had to be flexible to the demands of living with a new disability.
© Disability NarrativesGabrielle explains that she tries to maintain a normal life, knowing her multiple sclerosis and endometriosis can always disrupt her plans.