WorkSafeBC offers holistic approach to severely injured workers

WorkSafeBC announced more enhancements to its Special Care Services team to further provide more holistic services to severely injured workers. Workers who suffer lifelong and life-altering injuries, including spinal cord injuries, catastrophic burns, amputations, and brain injuries, often don’t return to their old jobs or their regular day-to-day life.

“They’re the most serious cases and they don’t always have tidy, happy endings,” said Jennifer Leyen, WorkSafeBC Special Care Services Director. “Individuals may suffer from anger and even depression and it’s our job to provide ongoing compassionate assistance to ease their burdens.”

As understanding of the complexities of living with a serious injury has increased, WorkSafeBC has enhanced its services and support by adding to its team of medical specialists, case managers, psychologists, and social workers. Special Care Services continues to enhance its ongoing training for staff who work with specific injuries.

“We believe that treatment for the most severely injured must rehabilitate not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well,” said Leyen. “We want to have more involvement, more interaction — all the things we believe will help improve the outcomes for seriously injured workers.”

One result of this holistic approach was a photo essay by injured worker Simon Paradis, whose experience inspired him to depict his grueling morning routine in a poignant photo essay entitled Simon’s Legs. It was unveiled last week at WorkSafeBC.

Two years ago, while working as a finishing carpenter, Paradis fell three metres from a scaffold and suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that left him unable to walk, and with brain injuries that forced him to relearn the most basic motor skills.

“I wanted to bring the viewer into my environment,” said Paradis of his black-and-white photo montage, created with his wife Kara Stanley. “It was a great outlet — I was focused and enthusiastic about this project because it’s a creative representation of what I’m going through.” But as a recipient of the BC Rehab Foundation’s 2009 Gert Vorsteher Memorial Award, demonstrating incredible determination in reaching personal independence, Paradis is no stranger to being focused.

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a board of directors that serves about 2.3 million workers and more than 200,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from a historic compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917. Under that compromise, workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job, and, in return, employers funded a no-fault insurance system. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces, and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.