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Work, health and wellbeing

Work, health and wellbeing: The challenges of managing health at work

Sarah Vickerstaff
Chris Phillipson
Ross Wilkie
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Work, health and wellbeing
    Book Description:

    The relationship between health and work is widely recognised as complex and multifaceted. In the context of an ageing population our ability to enable people with health issues to continue working is becoming more critical. This multi-disciplinary volume brings together original research from diverse disciplinary backgrounds investigating how we can define and operationalise a bio-psychosocial model of ill-health to improve work participation in middle and later life.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-809-7
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. List of abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. ONE Work, health and wellbeing: an introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Sarah Vickerstaff, Chris Phillipson and Ross Wilkie

    Policies to extend working life have become a central response to the development of ageing populations. Delaying retirement is viewed as a means of mitigating the effects of worsening demographic ratios whilst increasing financial resources for later life. Such policies are variously presented as an ‘unavoidable obligation’ (Reday–Mulvey, 2005, p 195), ‘a fiscal and social imperative’ (PwC, 2010) or simply part of an injunction that people should ‘live longer and work longer’ (OECD, 2006). According toThe Economist(2009), retirement has been ‘overdone’. Many European governments, including that in the UK, have moved to raise pension ages along with...

  8. TWO Musculoskeletal disorders: challenges and opportunities
    (pp. 21-38)
    Ross Wilkie

    The impact of musculoskeletal disorders on work is demanding more attention from stakeholders, including clinicians and policymakers. Musculoskeletal disorders are the most frequently cited reason for absence from work (Black, 2008). Dame Carol Black’s reportWorking for a healthier tomorrow(Black, 2008) and the subsequent government responseImproving health and work: Changing lives(DWP and DH, 2008) highlight the need for new approaches and attitudes to assess and reduce the burden. National policies directed at extending working life further increase this need. The incidence and prevalence of many musculoskeletal disorders increase with age. Extensions to working life will result in greater...

  9. THREE Common mental health problems and work
    (pp. 39-58)
    Annie Irvine

    Recent years have seen significant policy attention focused on mental health and employment. The latter part of 2009 saw the publication of several key documents, including the first national strategy on mental health and employment (Health, Work and Wellbeing Directorate, 2009), an overarching framework for mental health service provision (HM Government, 2009a), a review of support for people not in employment due to mental health conditions (DWP, 2009), a strategy on employment support for people in contact with secondary mental health services (HM Government, 2009b) and public health guidelines for line managers on creating mentally healthy workplaces (NICE, 2009). Preceding...

  10. FOUR Comparing health and employment in England and the United States
    (pp. 59-78)
    David Lain

    This chapter addresses the role played by health in later life, especially in the context of pressures on people to remain in employment through their 60s and beyond. The 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review indicated that the state pension age (SPA) is to start rising above 65 as early as 2018, reaching 66 in 2020 (HM Treasury, 2010). This means that many people in their mid-50s today will have to work longer than either anticipated or planned. In the meantime, the government is encouraging continued employment by phasing out the default retirement age of 65. As a result, with a few...

  11. FIVE Re-evaluating trends in the employment of disabled people in Britain
    (pp. 79-94)
    Ben Baumberg

    Experts, politicians and the public are all in agreement: there is a problem with the employment of disabled people in Britain. Over a period in which life expectancy rose, the rates of sickness benefit¹ claims increased at the same time — such that before the recent recession there were three times as many people claiming sickness benefits as unemployment benefits. This rise in sickness benefit receipt requires explanation as well as urgent intervention.

    In the academic literature, there is a rough consensus over the nature of this problem, much of which stems from an influential publication in theBritish Medical Journal...

  12. SIX The current state of vocational rehabilitation services
    (pp. 95-118)
    Joanne Ross

    Vocational rehabilitation (VR) is an umbrella term used to describe the wide range of processes and interventions that enable people with a health condition, injury or disability to enter, return to, or remain in work. As such, the current state of VR services is critical to the wellbeing-at-work agenda and the expected need, with an ageing population, for an even greater emphasis on enabling people with health conditions to remain in employment. This chapter examines VR interventions and the contexts in which services are delivered. Contemporary approaches to VR are discussed, including traditional condition-focused and newer occupation-focused perspectives. The discussions...

  13. SEVEN The changing profile of incapacity claimants
    (pp. 119-134)
    Christina Beatty and Steve Fothergill

    Incapacity claimants are the single largest group of working-age benefit claimants in the UK. Even in the wake of the post-2008 recession, they outnumber the unemployed on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) by around one million and lone parents in receipt of Income Support by around two million. A total of 2.6 million adults of working age were out of the labour market on incapacity benefits in 2010 — 7% of the entire working-age population.

    A sound understanding of just who makes up the stock of incapacity claimants, and why, is clearly important. Not least, this information is potentially helpful in trying to...

  14. EIGHT Reconstructing the self and social identity: new interventions for returning long-term Incapacity Benefit recipients to work
    (pp. 135-160)
    David Wainwright, Elaine Wainwright, Rachel Black and Susan Kenyon

    Returning one million Incapacity Benefit (IB) recipients to work by 2015 is high on the UK government’s disability reform agenda. Several interventions have been piloted in the Pathways to Work initiative and have proven moderately successful at returningnewIB claimants to work. However, we know little about how they are experienced bylong-termIB recipients.

    This chapter presents evidence of the problems faced by long-term IB recipients and the limited effectiveness of current interventions to support their return to work. We undertook qualitative interviews with 12 long-term IB recipients who had used return-to-work interventions provided by a council in...

  15. NINE The fall of work stress and the rise of wellbeing
    (pp. 161-186)
    David Wainwright and Michael Calnan

    Over the past 30 years, the discourse of work stress has become one of the key frames of reference by which people make sense of the problems they encounter in their working lives (Wainwright and Calnan, 2002). In 2007/08, the UK Labour Force Survey found that 17% of workers reported that their job was very or extremely stressful; a third had discussed work stress with their line manager; 442,000 workers felt that stress was making them ill; and work stress accounted for 13.5 million lost working days (ONS, 2009). As well as charting the extent of the ‘epidemic’, this self-reported...

  16. TEN ‘Work Ability’: a practical model for improving the quality of work, health and wellbeing across the life-course?
    (pp. 187-206)
    Tony Maltby

    This chapter offers a descriptive, yet critical, overview of a holistic approach to managing health and wellbeing of employees that has been developed in Finland from the 1980s by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). Known as the Work Ability model (Ilmarinen, 2010), it attempts to integrate all aspects of the health and wellbeing of individuals and should be seen as a preventative approach to the management of a broad range of health issues in the workplace. Thus it could extend the quality working life of all adults, but more especially (and its initial purpose) those over 50, generally...

  17. ELEVEN Working for longer: self-management of chronic health problems in the workplace
    (pp. 207-234)
    Fehmidah Munir

    This chapter considers how employees with health problems can maintain their own health, wellbeing and productivity across over their working life. Chronic health problems are an increasing problem within an ageing workforce. The majority of these health issues are defined as a‘condition that is long-term, cannot becurrently cured but can be controlled with the use of medication and/or other therapies’ (DH, 2010, p 4). Such conditions can be limiting in terms of daily functioning. They include common health problems such as musculoskeletal disorders (such as repetitive strain injury and persistent back pain) and mental health problems (such as...

  18. TWELVE Case study: organisational change and employee health and wellbeing in the NHS
    (pp. 235-254)
    Julia Gibbs, Wendy Loretto, Tina Kowalski and Stephen Platt

    Against the wider background of debates over the positive and negative effects of work on employee wellbeing, there has been a specific interest in organisational change. It is most often suggested that change has a negative effect on employee wellbeing (Ferrie et al, 1998; Tehrani et al, 2007), with concerns expressed over the nature of changes, how they are managed and the rate of change. In particular, a widely held notion that the contemporary employment experience is one of constant change has given legitimacy to focusing on change in its own right. One sector strongly associated with constant change is...

  19. THIRTEEN Education and training in the workplace
    (pp. 255-272)
    Chris Phillipson

    Addressing new challenges for training and education in the workplace has become a significant area of attention. Extending working life is now a major theme of public policy across Western Europe and the United States (Vickerstaff, 2010). The over-50s are being targeted as ‘the new work generation’ (OECD, 2006; EHRC, 2010) in response to demographic and economic pressures – labour force projections indicating that by 2021 around 32% of the working-age population will be aged 50 and over. The forces driving this attention to older workers are relatively easy to sketch; more complex will be developing satisfactory responses to supporting training...

  20. FOURTEEN Conclusion: setting the agenda for future research
    (pp. 273-282)
    Chris Phillipson, Ross Wilkie and Sarah Vickerstaff

    The first decade of the 21st century saw a profound shift in perspectives on the nature of work across the life-course. For much of the preceding five decades, there was a steady redistribution of activity from work to retirement. In 1950, the average age of exit (for men) from employment was 67.2 years, with life expectancy of 10.8 years at age of exit from the workforce; by 2004, estimates from the Pensions Commission indicated that the average age of exit from work had dropped to 63.8 years, with a near doubling of life expectancy after exit from employment to 20.1...

  21. Index
    (pp. 283-290)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-291)