Will I be able to get back to work?
With the right care, support and advice, many people do return to work.
Whether you are able to go back to work, and how long it takes, depends on: the effects of your stroke, the work you were doing before it, and the amount of support your employer can give you.
- Returning to work doesn’t necessarily mean returning to the same job with the same roles and responsibilities.
- Even if you can’t do the exact same role you did before, there are still lots of options.
Your employer has a legal responsibility to do all they can to ensure that your stroke does not stop you from keeping your job or having the same rights and access to opportunities that you had before.
What this means depends on the size and nature of your employer, but they may be able to slightly adjust your previous role, for example, or offer you another that is more suitable.
Most employers are keen to do all they can for their employees, but it’s likely that they will need some advice. Putting your employer in touch with your occupational therapist is a good starting point, as he or she will be able to give them information about stroke and how it has affected you in particular, and tell them about other sources of information and support if they need it.
When can I go back?
Even though you may be eager to get back to work, it’s important to be aware of any lasting effects.
Lots of people have problems with fatigue after their stroke, and you may get tired far more quickly than you used to.
You may find that you can cope with the physical aspect of work but your concentration levels are reduced, and you may not notice until you begin to work again. This is why many people find returning to work part-time and gradually increasing their hours is helpful.
What do I need to do?
Talk to your occupational therapist
He or she should ask you about the work you were doing before your stroke and help you to set realistic goals about returning. They can advise on aids or equipment that you may need, or refer you to a disability employment adviser, or to a specialist vocational rehabilitation team who can provide additional assistance or advice.
Keep in touch with your employer
This should help you feel less isolated and ease your worries about returning to work. When you think you may be ready to return, your employer should work with you to identify what your needs are and what adjustments they can make to help you.
Find out what financial support you are entitled to
Whether you plan to return to work or not, you should find out what financial support you may be entitled to. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim benefits from the government. To find out more, read our leaflet on Benefits and financial assistance, or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
What if I can’t return to my current job?
If returning to your current job isn’t possible, you could look for a different role elsewhere, or retrain for a different type of job.
A disability employment adviser can help you gain new skills and tell you about disability friendly employers in your area.
They can also tell you about other support that is available; for example, grants that can help pay for taxi fares to work if you can’t take public transport, or pay for disability awareness training for your colleagues.
You can ask to speak to a disability employment adviser at your local JobCentre Plus.
Useful tools and information
We’ve put together a complete guide to stroke for employers, highlighting good ways to support someone when they are ready to return to work. It helps employers understand the changes a stroke can cause and how they can affect someone in the workplace.
There's also a complete guide to work and stroke for anyone who is planning to return to work after a stroke. It contains useful advice on planning your return, your rights at work, changing career, retirement and volunteering.
We know that returning to work after a stroke can be daunting and challenging, so we’ve developed a return to work form to help you. This includes guidelines and templates that are designed to support your conversations with your employer. They will also help you discuss your stroke and any adaptations that need to be made to your workplace.