How you can benefit from vocational rehabilitation

vocational rehabilitation

The term rehabilitation refers to the act of helping restore someone to health and a standard of life, through training and therapy. Athletes often require physical rehabilitation when recovering from a serious injury. Vocational rehabilitation can offer similar assistance but is not limited to physical injury.

Sometimes known simply as VR or voc rehab, vocational rehabilitation refers to programs that aim to help individuals with injuries or disabilities reach their optimal physical, mental, social, and vocational ability.

Those with physical, psychiatric, and learning disabilities benefit from vocational rehabilitation, which can help them find and keep jobs. Sustaining a serious injury or living with a disability can result in significant challenges that drastically change a person’s lifestyle and their capabilities in general.

Losing the ability to do one’s job or facing impediments to finding a new one can be overwhelming to many. Vocational rehabilitation can help individuals overcome barriers to finding work by aiding the development of skills required in the job market and in life in general.

Who is Eligible for Vocational Services?

To qualify for vocational rehabilitation services, one must typically:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment which poses an impediment to employment
  • Be able to benefit from VR services in achieving employment
  • Need VR services to prepare for, get, keep, or regain a job.

Essentially, vocational rehabilitation is intended to help those dealing with a disability regain a lost job, train for a new occupation, locate employment, and build a permanent career to gain or regain their independence.

What Services Are Available for Vocational Rehabilitation?

Everyone who applies for VR will have their own needs and goals, meaning not all available services will be required by an individual. Some of the services that might be available to you include:

  • Counselling and guidance
  • Aptitude testing
  • Job placement services
  • Diagnostic evaluations
  • Vocational training
  • Assistive or rehabilitation technology
  • Employer consultation
  • Communication access services, such as ASL interpreters

Vocational rehabilitation is an individualized program, meaning the services provided will be tailored to the applicant. It often involves ongoing counselling and guidance. There may be physical therapy, occupational or communication therapy, and psychiatry, depending on the individual. It also typically includes the development of specific job skills.

Job placement often involves cooperation between the VR agency and the potential employer to facilitate the candidate entering the workplace. This may include modifying the requirements and duties of the job or the work environment itself.

Services do not conclude with placement. Some individuals will require post-employment assistance, including health services, supplemental training, help with transportation, and other services.

Benefits of Rehabilitation

VR has many benefits and serves as an effective means of cost reduction and empowerment, as when retraining employees to fit in an organization. It benefits both the employee and the employer, given that hiring a new employee involves greater costs than just the salary, such as having a period of time where the position remains unfilled, new recruit training, and long-term disability claims.

VR programs can help workers on disability leave maintain a sense of worth and value to their employer. If it is not possible for them to return to work in their previous capacity, it may be possible to rework a position to allow an employee to return on light duty.  It demonstrates to the employee that they are a valued team member and helps prepare them for a return to regular duties, if and when possible. Steps can also be taken to put the employee in a vocational training program that will provide them with new skills and abilities to assume a new role in the company.

Vocational rehabilitation also benefits employers. A significant employer benefit is that vocational rehabilitation allows them to tap into a large supply of workers with disabilities at a time when they are experiencing high employee turnover or dealing with a shrinking labour market. Many technological innovations have occurred, presenting us with tools that can ease the transition to work. These include voice-activated computers, adapters for those with impaired mobility, voice synthesizers, and more. Accommodating disabled workers no longer requires a large investment, vastly increasing the number of suitable candidates for employment.

When all is said and done, vocational rehabilitation is beneficial to all parties, whether it involves a return-to-work program for an injured employee, or the training and hiring of a previously unemployed person with a disability.

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