Online Program

Assisting the long-term unemployed: A community health based approach to returning disabled adults to the workforce

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Marjorie A. Getz, MA, MPHIL, Health Sciences and Gerontology, Methodist College, Peoria, IL
M. Barbara Campbell, Marketing Department, Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Peoria, IL
Jean Griffin, MS, CDMS, Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Peoria, IL
Research shows older workers to be differentially impacted by the current economy in such a way that those seeking work are more likely to remain in the ranks of the unemployed for longer periods of time than workers in younger age groups. Further, this issue can be more complicated for older workers who have been injured/disabled and still desire to return to the workforce. This presentation will describe comparative data collected on participants in the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Return to Work Program with a focus on outcomes for those workers over the age of 50. Descriptive program data shows that approximately 26% of persons who have participated in the Return to Work Program during the last decade are age 50 years or older. This contrasts sharply with similar statistics from the 1990s which showed those over 50 to represent only 16% of clients. Current older workers remain off-work for an average of 12.7 months, approximately 9.6% longer (34 days) than those under 50 years of age. Older workers participating in the program are more likely to use computer literacy services, physical therapy services for de-conditioning and weight management, and request knowledge/skills training in alternative methods for previously learned task. Summary data on worker placement also will be presented. The Return to Work Program is an effective community resource providing work skills, work hardening and work conditioning for older adults seeking to return to the work force after unemployment due to illness, injury or disability.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the complexity of long-term unemployment as a significant issue for older workers. Describe the components of a comprehensive return to work program offered within the context of a physical rehabilitation medical center. The IPMR Return to Work Center facilitates entry or return to work with services to those with an occupational injury or illness, physical impairment, or disability. Interpret comparative data collected on persons over the age of 50 compared to those under 50 and their experience in completing training and securing employment after program participation. Evaluate the utility of working to establish this type of program to provide for the diverse needs of older adult workers who may leave employment due to injury, illness or disability. Explain new approaches to helping seasonal workers, especially older workers, avoid de-conditioning while unemployed.

Keyword(s): Aging, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a gerontologist with more than 15 years working experience in the field; I teach Adult Development and Aging at the college level; I am doing the data analysis for this paper; I am trained at the Master's level in public health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.