Chronic Illness Accommodations At Work

by Ariela Paulsen
Chronic Illness Accommodations At Work

A fascinating thought has started to percolate in my brain.  As we enter widespread isolation due to COVID-19, more and more people are starting to understand how it feels to not feel safe at work; having to make the choice whether to risk their own health, or risk disapproval or loss of income from employers.  Social media is full of the emotions that accompany this decision. Fear, loss of body autonomy, anger that the system isn’t set up to accommodate these changes, gratitude at the employers who do get it… I have rarely felt so seen by mainstream discourse.  What the conversations are lacking, perhaps, is that we have been facing this since the onset of our symptoms! Yet we are all to used to keeping quiet and making sacrifices.

What if we didn’t have to?

What if this pandemic actually opened a door for spoonies?  What if employers come to realize that things can actually happen in out-of-the box ways?  What if employees all across the world realize the benefits of being able to work on their terms and advocate, when this is all over, to keep some of that flexibility?  Maybe this could be a long-needed catalyst for change, not just for the spoonie community, but for various disabilities, caretakers of young children or homebound relatives, introverts, neuro-divergent folks… think of the number of people who could be impacted!

Whether you’re trying to self-isolate during a pandemic or, in safer times, trying to advocate for your body’s needs, it can be nerve-wracking to ask for accommodations.  The key to your success is confidence. You have every right to ask for these changes, and you are not alone in this fight.

Hannah Olson — Brand Ambassador, Lyme Warrior, and our Friend in the Fight

Hannah started Chronically Capable for this very purpose.  She saw how much incredible strength and creativity the workforce was losing by shutting out those of us whose bodies did not fit into the cubicles of the world.  Maybe we need to have a dark room to lay down in once a day, wheelchair accessible meeting spaces, or a specific appliance in the kitchen. Maybe we need the option of working remotely on bad days.  Or maybe we need to overhaul a problematic culture of production at the price of employee’s mental and physical health. Whatever we need, these asks are perfectly reasonable.  Not only that, typically accommodations open the doors for conversations and changes that benefit all employees, not just those with chronic illness and disabilities!

Hannah hopes to smooth the way for these positive changes!  In an interview with Mighty Well, she shared that “Chronically Capable is a platform that connects the chronically ill with employers who offer remote work, flexible schedules, and great health benefits. I hope in the future, people struggling to find their place in the workforce due to chronic illness, can use this platform to find an employment opportunity that fits their unique needs, just as I have.”

Want to learn more?  Check out our tips for navigating careers and chronic illness, our interview with Hannah Olson, and Mighty Well co-founder Emily’s conversation with Hannah!

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Chronic Illness – Rhema Healthcare & Support Services October 25, 2021 - 11:04 am

[…] struggle to find work that accommodates chronic illness and disability is not new.  Many of us exist in a grey space — able to work, but not in the […]

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