Following my blog on inclusivity in the workplace and my own condition back in July, I promised to regularly share stories from staff who have come forward to talk about how the Workplace Adjustment Passport has helped them.
Back in October we heard from Lynsey Murray and her line manager Heather Buss. This time I would like to introduce Lisa Baldock, Lisa’s Hearing Dog Inca and Lisa’s line manager Matthew Cope. Lisa, Inca and Matt all work in the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).
In the coming weeks I hope to feature more stories and would like to hear from anyone willing to share how the Workplace Adjustment Passport has helped them. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the stories so far, I was really pleased to read so many positive comments.
During my time at DWP I have experienced many changes; the most important was a change in my conditions. My hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of three. Because of the delay in my speaking, they think I was born like that. The nerves in my ears simply do not work – it’s called ‘sensorineural hearing loss’*.
When I started working in the Civil Service I knew I would face challenges. As I progressed in my career, I realised that changes to roles and line managers can happen frequently and I was constantly facing barriers. It wasn’t easy having to explain myself all the time. In 2006 I suffered a very profound deterioration in my hearing; this impacted my working life and my general well-being. I found I became frustrated, depressed and I felt very isolated. The impact on me was huge.
Instead of being negative I became positive. I designed a tip-list showing my needs and how others could help me. It started breaking down those barriers, improving my relationships and ultimately it helped me be one of the key contributors to the cross-government Workplace Adjustment Passport we see today.
I have had a Workplace Adjustment Passport for some time now and it has proved invaluable each time I have experienced a change at work, either in my line manager or job role.
When I recently changed line manager I was able to use my passport to have a conversation about my conditions, the adjustments I have in place already and what we could both do to give me the support I needed. This discussion helped my line manager understand me better and he also helped me complete my application form. This encouraged a good working relationship and it reassured me. It gave me confidence to know he understood my circumstances and had the information he needed to help me do the job to the best of my ability.
As some of my adjustments were outdated, we contacted the Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team (CSWAT), the cross-Government Centre of Expertise, and they arranged a bespoke assessment. From this, we were able to put new adjustments into place really easily. My new adjustments included: a quiet room; a ‘Roger Pen’ microphone for meetings; communication support, such as British Sign Language interpreters; and toileting breaks for my assistance hearing dog Inca. I also have support when I am having a particularly bad day. The passport and the help I have received from CSWAT have proved invaluable.
I'm proud to see growth of the Workplace Adjustment Passport across the Civil Service, because I know what a big difference it has made for me.
* Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells inside the inner ear or damage to the auditory nerve (NHS).
Matt the line manager's story
I found the passport to be a useful tool, which has helped me understand Lisa’s condition better. I had a meeting with her previous line manager where we looked through the passport and discussed what it meant and how it would impact on her in her new role. It was very reassuring to have this, as I had never had any experience dealing with deafness during my time in DWP.
It was really helpful to be able to understand the details of Lisa’s disability before I started working with her, so that I could get any adjustments in place in time for her first day. Fortunately, she was already working in a suitable environment, but knowing in advance what support she needed helped me to be aware to book an interpreter for the training we had lined up for her. Without the passport, I wouldn’t have thought to do this.
The passport has had a really positive impact for both of us, and it has given me so much more confidence and awareness of how to deal with deafness in the workplace.
The Workplace Adjustment Passport is available on departmental intranet sites and from Civil Service Learning here.
You can also find the following products on Civil Service Learning:
- List of Common Workplace Adjustments
- Supporting Disabled Employees - Line Manager Best Practice Guide
The Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team also offers a ‘review’ service for employees or line managers finding it difficult to secure workplace adjustments. This service is available to everyone, regardless of whether their department has signed up to the case-management side of the Workplace Adjustments Service. The review may involve an intervention by the Workplace Adjustments Team, which can, alternatively, simply provide specialist advice.
You can contact the Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team on 0114 294 8902 or at email@example.com.
If you would like to share your story on how the Workplace Adjustment Passport has helped you, it would be great to hear from you. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Rupert McNeil on Twitter: @CivilServiceCPO
Comment by Liz posted on
I enjoyed reading this, but like Pam said, it is not the case across all departments. What does one do when they have been struggling in a situation for years and to the detriment of their health, but it seems to be constantly get brushed under the carpet!?
Comment by Lisa baldock posted on
I know there is alot of work being done to try and Improve this. If you have concerns for yourself or anyone else do contact civil service workplace adjustments team they will give you support and work with your managers.
Comment by Moira posted on
Love hearing these great stories re Work Place Adjustments passport and as the same as Pam it is not the story across departments. (However what does one do when your organisation refuses to accept your disability and targets you because of it?)
Comment by Lisa baldock posted on
I always believe that awareness and education is the key. If you can present the facts and highlight that they are discriminating as well as reflect your abilities in positive way, this is the key for inclusion. Some people weren't too sure at first about me having Inca. But as soon as she arrived in the office they realised the benefits outweighed all the worries they have. Hope this helps x
Comment by Rupert Bobrowicz posted on
Disability in the place of work can so easily be misunderstood by many, and many less able body persons are not often utilized to their optimal ability, talents and performance. It is so easy to be an 'Outsider' and to feel isolated, depressed and under valued, but, hey, in spite of the negativity with which many face day in/day out this can be turned to a more positive outlook by taking advantage of available opportunities, resources available, working together more openly and honestly to build a more welcoming and productive place to work. Appreciation goes a long way to enhance lifestyles whereas exclusion deters development.
Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on
Thank you Lisa and Matt for a fantastic blog and a great example of how the Workplace Adjustment Passport Programme can work and ensure inclusion.
Can I ask if there were objections from anyone about you bringing a dog into the workplace? Whilst I know that most people accept Guide Dogs and I can appreciate the value that Assistance Dog offer, I am also aware that there are some people who feel uncomfortable or can be unsure about dogs! Even thought Inca like other Assistance Dogs is well trained.
Comment by Lisa baldock posted on
It was fine. Hearing Dogs came to talk to my office to allay any worries and all my managers worked together to make it work. They are trained dogs just like guide dogs. Inca's now a part of the team they love her
Comment by Pam posted on
Thanks for sharing this story.
It is heartening that the passport works for some individuals in the Service.
However what does one do when your organisation refuses to accept your disability and targets you because of it?
Comment by Rupert McNeil posted on
Thank you for taking the time to comment, I am sorry to hear your experience has not been as positive as Lisa's.
I would encourage anyone who is experiencing any difficulties at work or requires a workplace adjustment to speak to their line manager straightaway. If you or your line manager are not sure what to do next, your departmental Workplace Adjustment team or HR team should be able to help.
The Civil Service Workplace Adjustment team also provide support to employees and line managers for exceptional and complex cases via the Review Route. The contact details are included in Lisa's story.
Comment by Charlotte Smith posted on
This is a lovely story. It resonated more to me as i am also profoundly deaf and use a roger pen in the workplace. I find it invaluable. Also i was interested to read about the hearing dog being welcomed in the office as i am thinking about applying for one within the next five to ten years as i am aware that as i get older, what hearing i do have may be affected with the aging process. With the Government expecting us to work until we drop, for me the opportunity to apply for a hearing dog and have the knowledge that my potential four legged friend/partner would be welcomed in the workplace is very reassuring indeed.
Thank you for sharing this story.