Barnsley Hospital is taking part in the WORKWELL Trial to help employed people with inflammatory arthritis keep working. Often this can be done with a range of simple measures such as a new way of completing a task, a new chair and regular ‘micro breaks.’

Being employed not only improves your income, there is clear evidence that working can be good for your health and wellbeing.

People with arthritis face considerable challenges staying in work or returning to the workplace.  With the right advice and support many people with arthritis can continue to work successfully.

If your arthritis is affecting your work, or daily activities, you have rights under the Equality Act 2010. This means your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to support you at work.

Understanding your condition and the support you may need is key to managing arthritis in the workplace.  Often simple adjustments can help you do your job better and more comfortably. Not everyone with arthritis wants to tell their employer about their condition, and many changes you can still make yourself.

The WORKWELL Trial, which started in May 2018 and runs to January 2022, is looking at how two methods of providing work advice and support can help people with inflammatory arthritis keep working.

This national 3.5 year trial is being funded by Versus Arthritis, the leading arthritis charity in the UK. It represents the ten million people living with arthritis, and their carers, health professionals, researchers, volunteers and fundraisers. Versus Arthritis develops breakthrough treatments and campaigns relentlessly for arthritis to be seen as a priority.  It is led by a research team at the University of Salford.

Ursula MacFarlane, Occupational Therapy Service Manager, Barnsley Hospital said: “We are testing interventions we would provide as occupational therapists to support people to stay in work while managing their arthritis. Everyone taking part gets a work advice pack, with information and practical tips.

“Half of those taking part also have the opportunity to meet with an occupational therapist, with specialist work and arthritis training. We find out from people about how they do their work tasks, checking biomechanics and ergonomics. Are there things that could be done to help them to manage their symptoms better while remaining a productive worker? There are often straightforward solutions, such as different ways of doing work tasks. If the worker wants us to, we can also visit their workplace, meet with them and their employer. We can make specific recommendations. Solutions might be something as simple as having a new ergonomic chair, getting up every 30 minutes or taking micro pauses.”

Other handy tips are to take your hands off the mouse when reading emails. Or stand up when taking telephone calls to reduce sitting for long periods. Ursula added: “In a nutshell, as occupational therapists we aim to help people to continue to live their life.”

Would you like to help?

If you’d like to participate in the study or think this service might be useful to you, call 01226 432520 or email barnsley.researchnurses@nhs.net to find out more.

You can also find out more and contact the Salford University research team through: https://www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk/ and search for ‘WORKWELL.’