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Employment: Chronic Illnesses

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Cat Smith Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what specialist training Work Coaches receive to help people with hidden and fluctuating health conditions (a) find and (b) stay in work.

Photo of Mims Davies Mims Davies The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Training and guidance is provided for work coaches to support customers with fluctuating health conditions to find and stay in work.

They receive health and complex needs learning that provides them with the skills and knowledge to:

  • coach claimants to equip them with the tools and skills they need to progress towards or into work
  • invest in knowing the claimants they coach by asking the right questions to establish their needs
  • know how they can support claimants with complex needs in specific areas
  • state where they can find assistance and refer claimants to personalised provision for themselves with regard to their health condition
  • challenge claimants by setting and agreeing personalised, achievable steps that are reviewed at every attendance.

In addition, support is also provided for the work coach by the Disability Employment Advisers and Work Psychologists. Work Coaches can refer individuals to personalised provision and support such as the Work and Health Programme (available in England and Wales) or Fair Start Scotland (devolved programme available in Scotland).

Work Coaches have access to further learning in the form of ‘bitesize’ learning and guidance spotlights to refresh and support them. For example:

  • Health and Work Conversation Techniques ‘bitesize’ – this provides learning on how to keep claimants engaged with the world of work and to keep thinking about the work they could do now or in the future, if not possible now. The Health and Work Conversation techniques have been specifically designed to enable the work coach to support a claimant who has:

- a health condition

- become disengaged with the labour market, perhaps, because they have been long term unemployed

  • Spotlight: Work and Health Programme (WHP) published November 2019

- Spotlight: Universal Credit Health Offer published April 2019 – This provides guidance on what is available for customers to support them to and in work. For example, Access to Work, Specialist Employability Support

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