A first-of-its-kind online toolkit is now available to provide training and resources to companies and organizations that have employees with epilepsy.
Developed by Epilepsy Toronto, the epilepsy@work toolkit was recently launched. It was developed with the support of the Government of Ontario, Epilepsy Ontario and CIBC.
The goal of the resource is to help those employing people with epilepsy better understand, address and manage the needs of employees living with a seizure disorder, says Tim Nourse, an employment consultant involved with the project.
“We know that this is unique — there’s nothing out there like this in North America,” Nourse tells Voices of Epilepsy.
“It gives all of the epilepsy organizations in Ontario a resource that they can send employers to, or that they can send people with epilepsy to, and it’s going to dispel a lot of the myths and stigmas associated with epilepsy.”
Employers using the toolkit will find information about strategies they can use to best accommodate employees with a seizure disorder. The toolkit offers resources focused on three primary areas: understanding epilepsy; seizure safety; and first aid, just-in-time resources for human-resources professionals, managers and occupational health and safety specialists.
Once on the website, co-workers, front-line supervisors and HR staff can take a 30-minute course to help them understand the condition and why having an employee with epilepsy is actually good for business.
Employees with epilepsy are encouraged to share the toolkit with their employer. Generally, people living with epilepsy have a greater challenge retaining a job than finding employment, Nourse says. The information garnered through epilepsy@work can be used to curb discrimination and guide employers to appropriate resources, he notes.
“People may choose not to disclose (that they have epilepsy), but when they have that first seizure at work things get a little bit dicey,” Nourse says. “For the person with epilepsy, they may not have a local (epilepsy support agency) that can help them, but they can steer their employer towards this website.”
Epilepsy Toronto is working with other epilepsy support agencies throughout the province to get the word about the resource, Nourse says.
“It’s not meant to replace (epilepsy support agencies); it’s a tool to augment the services that they already provide in communities,” he says.
Writer: Deron Hamel
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