Is this fair for during a phased return to work?

(9 Posts)
peskyfeelings Tue 02-Aug-16 12:26:53

I've been off from my job role for nearly seven months. I was suffering from severe anxiety and depression (honestly felt suicidal)

I was found a place at an alternative working base, and I am now into the fourth week of a month long phased return to work. To be honest I am still really struggling to keep calm, anxiety symptoms have come back and I'm overthinking everything while I am there.

I was told via email yesterday by my manager that she wants me to do a task tomorrow that I am absolutely dreading. I have to go to another hostel (I work in supported housing) and complete a service assessment with a person we will be taking on at my hostel at the end of the week. I've only ever done one service assessment before many moons ago and I'm far from confident at doing them. I told my manager I would prefer support for this first one, and her solution is for a member of staff from the hostel I am visiting to sit in with me! Obviously this staff member will have no awareness whatsoever of my situation and will be someone I've never even met. I also have to find the hostel alone and I have no idea where it is, other than that it's a fair distance from my work place.

I couldn't sleep last night for worrying about it. I actually feel sick with anxiety. I don't expect to be treated with kid gloves forever, but I really did think that my phased return would be much gentler than this. I feel like I am needlessly being placed in a situation that is going to cause me a great deal of anxiety.

I really feel like ringing my contact in HR and discussing it with her, but I don't want to come across as pathetic and incapable. I really wish I had just resigned the job like my instincts told me to. I feel dreadful after just four weeks back there.

What would others do in my situation?

TeaBelle Tue 02-Aug-16 12:36:06

I think it would depend on what was agree d for your return ie was it just agreed that your hours would increase gradually or that particular issues trigger your anxiety. Tbh if you are asking a manager to change something you have been asked to do, I think you need to be specific in your request - the arrangementa for someone to support you are not unreasonable and may be really helpful to some people, but you may need to spell out a bit more what you need

TeaBelle Tue 02-Aug-16 12:38:03

Also, I am often asked to support colleagues for a variety of reasons. The reason doesn't really matter, I will assess as the meeting goes along and support as necessary so if it is a good practitioner it shouldn't be necessary for them to have your personal information

tribpot Tue 02-Aug-16 12:39:04

That seems like a pretty stressful situation to put someone returning to work into. Looking at it objectively, I would have thought support from the hostel worker would be adequate provided he/she is familiar with the service assessment process? If he/she is just chaperoning I would reject this as viable support for you whilst completing a process you've only done once before yourself.

In terms of finding the hostel, will you be driving or on public transport? Google Maps is fantastic for route planning. When I'm driving somewhere unfamiliar I like to go into Street View so you can actually see what the road looks like and assess where you might park. Can you leave masses of time to get there so you're not stressing about time?

Overall I think you should speak to HR. Are you still under the care of a mental health team? Are they supporting you through the inevitably stressful process of returning to work? I don't think your boss is being very fair to you, probably not maliciously but just through being too busy to think about what you need.

What would happen if you said you couldn't do the assessment tomorrow?

peskyfeelings Tue 02-Aug-16 15:06:54

I'm not very good at asking for what I need unfortunately TeaBelle I really don't think the manager is being that understanding though tbh. During my second day back she asked how I was doing, and I answered honestly and said I was feeling quite anxious. Her reply was that she thought I was over all that now!

The other person who is doing the assessment hasn't been chosen specifically for me. It's the person I'm assessing's key worker.

Also the person getting assessed needs an interpreter, so that's going to make it even harder. Something else I am really stressing about.

I'll be walking tribpot as apparently the hostel is nowhere near a bus route. I'll definitely be google mapping or I'll get totally lost. I'm still under care of my doctor and getting counselling once a week. Something my employers are aware of. HR haven't checked up on me at all since I came back. Although the woman I've dealt with there is really nice and friendly, so that's a bonus.

I think they would think I was an idiot if I said I wasn't doing the assessment to be honest. I wouldn't have the nerve to say that anyway. I just want to resign. I should never have gone back. I wish I could resign with immediate effect and not have to go tomorrow.

TeaBelle Tue 02-Aug-16 17:24:05

In the kindest way, I think you are being a tiny bit ureasonable. If you can not communicate your needs/wishes then someone can't be expected to accurately guess. This could be done in a variety of ways; email, meeting using a trusted advocate, but the process is destined to fail until you can articulate what would make it succeed.
A keyworker is actually a great support person because they should know the service user and their quirks and presumably the assessment process too so can support you/ guide with pertinent questions et .

Floralnomad Tue 02-Aug-16 17:31:47

IT doesn't sound like you are ready to go back to work - or at least not to this type of work , but I don't think your manager is being unreasonable if the assessment she has asked you to do is part of your normal job . Could you speak to HR and see if you could be redeployed in a role that you would find less stressful .

LIZS Tue 02-Aug-16 17:32:45

So you aren't being expected to do the assessment alone. I think you need to identify what is stressing you - is it the travel, meeting a new client, the assessment? If you had been expected to do this without additional support ywnbu but I fear you may be. You need to raise your concerns with whoever has agreed your phasing if you feel this is too soon or too much of an ask at this stage.

Scrumptiousbears Tue 02-Aug-16 17:46:34

Are you being gradually phased back in your normal role or are you being given a different role to meet your needs?

When people return to work after sickness, many are gradually building up hours to get back into the swing of things. If this is the case and this is part of your continued role then you need to consider whether this is still the job for you.

If they have completed a risk assessment based on your current anxiety then and a plan has been put into place then yes maybe your manager is jumping the gun a bit. Equally you can't expect them to be a mind reader. You either make it clear to the manager or (to be frank) suck it up.

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