Chronic medical conditions
Key facts about chronic medical conditions
- Chronic medical conditions are long term medical conditions which may last for months or years, or be life-long.
- May be episodic, only affecting the person for part of the time, in response to specific stimuli or in particular situations.
- A wide range of medical conditions may impact on a person's work and require reasonable adjustments.
- The following are examples of chronic medical conditions. Click to find out more information:
Affects and adjustments at work
Common affects of chronic medical conditions at work
Remember! No two people with the same disability experience the same affects at work!
Employees with disability are not likely to have all the listed disability features OR affects at work! Most people have just a few of those listed, you'll only know by asking the person directly.
Here are some examples of how an employee with a chronic medical condition may be affected at work. They may have difficulties with:
- lower stamina and excessive fatigue;
- chronic pain affecting ability to concentrate, sit in same position, stand for long periods and/or walk long distances;
- need to juggle medical appointments during work hours;
- absences with no or minimal notice; and
- negative side effects of medication.
Possible workplace adjustments for people with chronic medical conditions
The following examples of workplace adjustments are only examples! These examples will not suit everybody.
In each case the best supports in the workplace can only be discovered through conversations between employer, employee and, if needed, a disability specific employment specialist.
Some examples of workplace adjustments that have been used for people with a chronic medical condition include:
- Earlier or later starting/finishing times to allow the person to be at work during their peak performance period of the day.
- Put in place a 'back up plan' for if and when the person needs leave from work with short or no notice, eg: a specific contact person who can help deal with any urgent work matters, assistance to collate and send any work materials the person wants to and is able to work on during their absence; and/or a specific arrangement for giving urgent notice of absence to the workplace.
- Extra short breaks to help the person manage any pain, lack of concentration and/or fatigue.
- Arrangements to work from home at agreed regular intervals.
- Flexibility in work hours to allow the person to attend medical appointments.
- Safe place for keeping medications.
For more information and suggestions on making workplace adjustments for employees with specific types of disability visit the government website Job Access.
Tips for communicating with a person with a chronic medical condition
- Avoid comments indicating that the person is especially weak, fragile or unfit.
- Keep questions about the person's chronic medical condition to the affects at work and what supports can be put in place to accommodate the affects, rather than questions about prognosis, how the person got the illness and/or any other personal details not directly relevant to work.
- Offer discretion and protection of the person's privacy, you may be the only person in the workplace to know the employee has a chronic medical condition.