Employers should know that employees affected by young onset Parkinson’s are still productive and functional, valuable and simply require some readjustment support and allowances made, some variation to roles perhaps, if symptoms progress, including working from home part of the time. I’m not working, and I continued to work for 2 years after my diagnosis.
I felt supported by my employer/co-workers until a change of government led to mass redundancies. The most debilitating issues with regards to my working capacity were slowness of movement, fatigue/lack of sleep, muscle stiffness/rigidity, standing/walking, sitting for long periods and handwriting. The particular time of the work day that I found more difficult than other times of the day was afternoons and fatigue.
Strategies or techniques that may have been helpful to support me to stay in the workforce longer could have included flexibility to work around fluctuating symptoms, writing aids such as voice-to-text software to reduce the need to type, reduced hours and working from home. A formal process was undertaken to determine my work capacity and support requirements including a modified work plan, and move to part time, which after time to readjust, went to graduated return to full time. Employees need to feel like they will be supported, and not hide the condition. I sought advice about my rights as an employee. Additional things to consider – income protection and disability, leave arrangements built into Work Cover and superannuation.