Helping people return to work – workplace rehabilitation

Sustainable return to work is ACC’s workplace rehabilitation philosophy. It reflects an international view, based on a growing body of research, that injured workers heal faster and avoid psychological impairment if they can safely recover in the workplace, or return to it as soon as possible after their injury.

Working with the primary care sector, ACC brings these benefits to injured clients through:

  • enabling positive work fitness certification practices – that support early and safe return to work
  • providing claim management services – that support positive work fitness certification by providing fast and effective return to work services such as the recently introduced Clinical Review of Fitness for Work and ACC’s Stay at Work vocational rehabilitation service.

Positive work fitness certification

ACC is focussed on supporting GPs to make informed clinical decisions on certifying patients for time off work, because helping injured patients to recover at work, or return quickly and safely, is recognised as good practice.

In the past, health professionals and employers focused on return to work for injured patients only after their full recovery.

Today, the benefits of early return to work are recognised by health professionals and employers, and modern practice supports safe and sustainable work that quickly integrates people back into the workplace and their normal lives.

Work, modified for the patient’s circumstances, should be viewed as a form of therapy, because returning:

  • enables the recovery and rehabilitation process to begin
  • reduces financial uncertainty for your patient and their family
  • avoids psychological impairment arising from ‘worklessness’
  • keeps your patient involved in their everyday lives (as far as possible).

ACC recognises that the doctor or nurse practitioner undertaking certification does need to have clinical skill to advise on safe levels of activity and exposure to environments in the workplace. Practitioners are encouraged to make the most of training opportunities to build up their skills and also utilise the range of ACC supports by referral and discussion with the case manager to make sure return to work succeeds.

Nationwide return to work support

ACC’s nationwide return to work services support practitioners: they make it easier for GPs to talk to us about their patients; easier to get help in difficult cases; and ensure the certification which guides rehabilitation is safe and appropriate.

They are:

  • Stay at work and vocational rehabilitation: ACC’s vocational services ensure qualified occupational therapists and physiotherapists are alongside your patient facilitating safe transition to the working environment. For clients who could go back to work but not to full duties and need support, see Submit medical certificates.
  • Clinical Review of Fitness for Work Service – which provides for a clinical assessment by an occupational medicine expert, for you on difficult or complex return to work cases. The reviewing doctor calls the treating team to ensure everyone is on the same page, see Submit medical certificates.
  • General Practice Support Service – which provides CME qualifying education and training in work fitness certification through participating PHOs.
  • Goodfellow certification module (external website) experts tell us how return to work requires a holistic and problem solving approach. Case studies show how you can use existing developed services and tools to efficiently manage safe transition back to work.

Service brochure

More information can be found in the work fitness certification brochure:

Updated: 10 November 2015