HomeNews & Media CentreArticlesWhat is a Return to Work (RTW) plan?

What is a Return to Work (RTW) plan?

A return to work (RTW) plan is developed to help an injured worker stay at work or return to their pre-injury work duties.

A return to work (RTW) plan is developed to help an injured worker stay at work or return to their pre-injury work duties. In the health care industry, RTW plans are done by a rehabilitation consultant. The aim is to create a simple plan to help an injured worker return to work in the most efficient and safe way possible.

RTW plans should include a wide range of assessment services and strategies to help the worker return to their same employer or new employer after injury.

Why are return to work plans important?

The longer an employee is away from work, the less likely they are to return to work. A return to work plan is a proactive way to reduce the impact of injury or illness to an employer and get employees back to work sooner.

Did you know that, for most people, work is actually good for physical and mental health, enhancing general health and wellbeing? We believe in the principles covered in the Australian Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) and are a signatory to this initiative.

Research shows that the overall beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks, including:

  • Providing financial security
  • Giving structure to workdays
  • Ensuring physical activity is undertaken on a daily basis
  • Providing workers a sense of social inclusion and contributing to their families
  • Decreasing the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviour

What’s in a return to work plan?

Assessment services: Assessing the capabilities of the injured worker. Includes assessing current symptoms, psychological factors, transferrable work skills and earning capacity.

Same employer: Keeping the worker employed at their current workplace after injury or illness. This may involve getting back to pre-injury duties or transitioning to a different role. This process includes psychological case management, work trials and job task analysis.

New employer: Transitioning the worker to a new workplace after injury or illness. This process involves an initial needs assessment, labour market analysis and transferrable skills analysis. Rehab Management offers different programs under new employer services including RMExpress, RMIntensive, RMReach and RM Step into Work.

A return to work plan should be:

  • Developed using appropriate expertise, like an approved rehabilitation provider.
  • Developed with the injured worker and treating medical professionals.
  • Personalised and outline the steps to successfully get the worker back to work.
  • Recognise existing skills and capabilities of the injured worker.
  • When it’s not possible for the worker to return to the same pre-injury duties, utilise retraining to find suitable employment.

Bio-psychosocial approach

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to supporting an injured or ill worker. The effects of injury or illness and missing out on work affects people in different ways. Even if the nature of the injury or illness is similar, no two RTW plans are the same.

In fact, managing an injury or illness and returning to work is most successful when tailored to the needs of the individual. It’s important for the injured worker to have an active role in their RTW plan and the process of getting them back into employment.

“People are at the centre of our business. We help them achieve their best outcomes through innovation, dedication and best practice.”

Rehab Management’s standard practice is to take a whole-person approach to services. We consider not only the injured worker’s physical or mental health condition but the person, including the biological and psychological barriers, the social environment and constraints. We consider social factors that may present barriers to a person’s return to work or independence and work closely with all relevant stakeholders to find solutions.

Our success in adopting a bio-psychosocial approach has been proven in RTW outcomes achieved across a wide variety of industries and frameworks.

Applying the bio-psychosocial approach to return to work

Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of Australians improve their lives through genuine understanding and respect.

Collaborative and inclusive and our personalised process helps tailor individual outcomes by applying innovative thinking, evidence-based approaches, and best practice to deliver client-centred outcomes. Applying the bio-psychosocial approach to RTW means the individual is the focus throughout the plan and implementation process.

Applying the bio-psychosocial approach involves these crucial steps:

  • The injured worker is the main focus of the plan
  • The RTW plan is a flexible process that is adaptive to the needs of the injured worker
  • The worker is empowered during the process to participate in their RTW plan and process
  • The worker has the appropriate supports they need
  • The RTW plan is personalised – all correspondence and documentation reflect the individual involved in the plan
  • Information is shared with the injured worker during each step of the process, allowing them to make informed decisions
  • New intervention possibilities are explored where necessary – like the injured worker suggesting solutions of their own
  • Appropriate explanations are given through each step of the implementation of the RTW plan
  • The injured worker is provided with regular opportunities to identify and communicate their personal return to work goals and how to achieve them

What do we do?

Our multidisciplinary team at Rehab Management delivers a wide range of individual services and integrated rehabilitation and workplace health solutions including occupational rehabilitation, return to work (or independence) and career transitioning, injury prevention and management, ergonomics, psychological, health and wellbeing. We’re qualified RTW plan practitioners to assist injured workers return to or find meaningful employment.

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