Video transcript for Carl's story
The screen shows a man walking towards a rugby field. Screen changes to a mid-up shot of Carl Perry, PE teacher and director of rugby at St Peter's School, Cambridge.
Carl: I think I would’ve been in a pretty dark, challenging place if I hadn’t been able to come to work.
The screen shows mid-shot of a group of young rugby players, tackling and passing the ball on the field. The screen changes to a shot of Carl holding a rugby ball chatting to a man on the field.
Carl: Recovery at work was a great option, mainly because I was so well supported in my role.
The screen shows mid-shot of Carl and his team huddling together as he speaks. The screen changes to a shot of Carl in his classroom briefing students, followed by shots of him in his office and walking down the hallway of the school.
Carl: I was actually able to be out on the field with the team or in the gym with the class.
I think it kept me sane, rather than sitting on the couch knowing my work is going to pile up, who’s going to do my admin, who’s going to cover my classes?
The screen shows shot of a woman, Te Aroha Keenan, director of sport at St Peter's School, Cambridge, seated in her office speaking to the camera. The screen changes to shots of Carl on the field with students.
Te Aroha: He loves getting involved and he loves our students.
Any time he can get in front of them, he always presents the best, you know, of himself.
The screen shows Carl seated on a chair on the rugby field speaking to the camera. The screen changes to shots of Carl playing netball. Followed by photos of Carl in the hospital and with a cast on.
Carl: I was playing social netball for a sports department team and then just went to take off to catch the ball, then it all just came tumbling down.
It just felt like someone had ran from the back wall and kicked me right in the Achilles and it was fully ruptured.
That’s probably the worst injury I’ve had in my time playing sport.
It was tough but once we got to A and E and got it all in a cast, then I kind of worried about like, oh no, what’s going to happen at work? I need to get there, I’ve got too many jobs to do.
The screen shows Te Aroha Keenan, seated in her office speaking to the camera. The screen changes to shots of Carl on the field with students.
Te Aroha: He did his Achilles, which was tragic for us because we knew what his involvement was in the sport and coaching and PE teaching – all that kind of stuff.
We knew it was going to be hard for him to stop and just not do anything.
Photo of Carl’s cast and moon boot.
Text on screen: Carl talked to his doctor about a Recovery at Work programme, which allows people to do alternative duties or reduced hours while they recover from injury.
A moving shot following the road passing the St Peter’s Cambridge school.
Text on screen: Research shows recovering at work can be good for an injured person’s physical and mental wellbeing – and can help them get better, sooner.
A moving shot of the school’s empty football and rugby fields.
Text on screen: ACC can provide a rehabilitation programme, financial support, equipment and help getting to and from work.
The screen shows Carl seated on a chair on the rugby field side on, changing to Carl speaking directly to the camera.
Carl: He put me on a light duties medical certificate, so it meant I could actually be at work.
When I passed this on to my line managers, they were real supportive.
The screen shows Te Aroha, seated in her office speaking to the camera. The screen changes to shots of Te Aroha and Carl having a conversation.
Te Aroha: We always discussed with him, you know, where are you at at this stage? What has your physio said? What has your doctor said? Have you been signed off? What support have you got? Do you have to use the crutches, because you’re not using them right now?
Those sorts of things, so those checks and balances with him.
The screen shows Carl walking through the gate of his home, embracing his young daughter.
Te Aroha: He could do a lot of the stuff that he was doing at home, in the comfort of his home with his leg up.
The screen shows shots of Carl at home playing with his three young daughters, followed by a shot of his wife Anna Perry playing with their daughters.
Carl: I think home time was probably the toughest. My three little girls are full of energy and they mean the world to me.
So not being able to be like 100 per cent engaged in changing nappies or bedtime or those little things, that was pretty challenging.
And just seeing my wife having to step up and do all of that, that was pretty tough.
The screen shows shots of Anna Perry, Carl's wife, at home speaking to the camera followed by a shot of Carl and Anna seated on the floor whilst playing with their three daughters.
Anna: Yeah, the hardest thing was managing the kids, getting to appointments when we don’t have family here in Cambridge. So that was just us going to all the appointments, Carl out of action, me managing the household.
Our oldest one, Bella, had just started school – it happened on her first day of school. So that was all new, we were just sort of transitioning into that.
So it was, yes, a bit of a stressful time.
The screen shows a wide moving drone shot of the rugby field.
Te Aroha: If there were things to be put out or cones to be put out, we did them for him or set up for the day.
The screen shows Te Aroha, seated in her office speaking to the camera.
Te Aroha: Other staff would go in and do those sorts of things and ensure that he was sitting on a chair and putting his foot up whenever he could.
Slow motion shot of Carl facing the camera with the rugby game in the background.
Test on screen: ACC also played a key role in supporting Carl’s recovery.
The screen shows shots of Carl getting physiotherapy on his leg. The screen changes to moving shot zooming out of the school, followed by images of Carl in crutches over the shot.
Carl: ACC was great, obviously made sure my injury was covered first and foremost. And then in terms of making sure I had regular physio appointments.
When I tried to be a hero on crutches and felt like I needed something else.
The screen shows a bird’s eye view wide moving drone shot of the school.
Carl: I got in touch with them and they were able to provide me with a knee scooter to help me get around the school.
The screen shows Carl on a physiotherapy table with Lucarne Dolley, his physiotherapist, inspecting and massaging his leg.
Lucarne: It’s looking a lot less thick through here aye, than it was.
Carl: Yeh, definitely, but compared to the other side, it’s still way, way thicker.
The screen shows a poster of ‘The Muscular System’ followed by shots of the physio office. The screen shows Lucarne Dolley seated by the physio table speaking to the camera.
Lucerne: I think recovery at work is super important because that’s a huge part of all of our lives.
It’s huge socially, like mental health-wise as well, getting people back to what they enjoy and what kind of gives them a purpose.
The screen shows Carl on a physiotherapy table with Lucarne Dolley, massaging his leg. The screen changes to shots of Carl exercising and in the gym.
Lucerne: It also kind of prompts things like actually, this is something new, I need to be able to do this and that can kind of give us some goals to work towards as well.
Slow motion shot of Carl on the rugby field.
Text on screen: Most injuries are preventable – and Carl has some wise words on staying injury free.
The screen shows Carl seated on a chair on the rugby field side on, changing to Carl speaking directly to the camera.
Carl: If I was to look back now on when I did my injury, maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I could’ve been.
The older you get, the more you actually have to look after yourself, warm up, make sure every muscle’s firing.
So I think that’s one key point.
Slow motion shot of Carl, his wife Anna and two of their daughters sitting on the step of their deck. Followed by a blue screen.
Text on screen: Recovery at work takes a team effort – from the injured person, their employer and their health provider, as well as whānau and workmates. Learn more about what role you can play in recovery at work at acc.co.nz. Helping people recover at work. It’s what we’re doing right now.
When PE teacher Carl Perry ruptured his Achilles, he was worried about taking time off work. But going on a Recovery at Work programme helped him stay on top of his tasks and remain socially connected, giving his physical and mental wellbeing a boost.
“Sir, you’ve lost a bit of pace!”
Carl Perry is struggling to keep up with a bunch of teenage players on the rugby field – and they’re giving him plenty of stick about it.
But he doesn’t care – in fact, he’s loving it.
Being able to run around again and enjoy some banter is what he’s been craving for months.
“Getting back out there ticked a massive box for me,” he says.
“It’s one of the things that fills my cup. And I just gave stick back to the kids, I said ‘I don’t need pace to make you guys look silly’,” he laughs.
A physical education teacher and Director of Rugby at St Peter’s School in Cambridge, Carl had not been able to take an active part in rugby training since snapping his Achilles heel last July.
But he was still able to coach from the sidelines and teach his classes for most of that time, thanks to being on a Recovery at Work programme.
“I didn’t need to stress about keeping on top of everything, who would teach my classes or who was going to do my admin,” he says.
That was a relief as Carl has a lot on his hands.
As well as teaching classes and delivering the school’s rugby programme, he also coaches the first XV and is assistant director of the senior boarding house.
“Being able to work in some capacity enabled me to feel like I was still completing tasks. It gave me a sense of purpose while I was injured.”
Recovering at work also had a positive impact on the father-of-three’s mental health.
“It was great to connect socially with my workmates,” he says.
“Just simple things, like having a conversation that wasn’t about work or just having a laugh, kept my energy levels up and took my mind off my injury. It would have been a different story if I was sitting on the couch at home.
“If I hadn’t been able to come to work, I would have been in a dark place. It definitely kept me sane.”
The benefits of recovering at work
Carl’s experience is in keeping with what we know about the importance of recovering at work.
Research shows it can be good for an injured person’s physical and mental wellbeing, and can help them get better, sooner.
It provides structure and routine, a sense of purpose, and social connection to workmates – which all contribute to a better recovery.
But it takes a real team effort – from the injured person, their employer and their health provider, as well as whānau and workmates.
ACC lends a helping hand
ACC also has a key role to play in making Recovery at Work a success.
We can provide a rehabilitation programme, financial support, equipment and help getting to and from work.
Carl was grateful for our support, which in his case included funding physio, covering some other medical costs and providing a moonboot and knee scooter.
“It was great to have such good support from ACC,” he says.
“They made sure I was getting all the physio I needed and, after I tried to be a hero on crutches, the knee scooter was a game changer. It made getting around the school so much easier.”
‘It felt like someone had shot me’
A former rugby player at club level in New Zealand and professionally in Italy, Carl was no stranger to injury.
He’s had reconstructive surgery on both shoulders and has a plate with six screws in his collarbone.
After competing for so many years in such a physical sport, ironically it was social netball that eventually brought him down.
“I was playing for our staff team and it was the first day of term,” he remembers.
“I went to take off and then ‘bang’, it just felt like someone had shot me or kicked me right in the back of the leg. I reached down and all I could feel was soft skin – the Achilles had snapped in half.”
After being treated at the nearest accident and emergency centre, he returned home on crutches and with his right leg in a cast.
He was relieved to hear he did not need surgery – but was still facing a long road to recovery.
With three energetic daughters under five and a job that required him to be on his feet often, he was fearing the worst.
Recovery at Work saves the day
With so much on his plate, Carl explained to his doctor that a lengthy spell off work would be far from ideal.
So his doctor suggested going on a Recovery at Work programme, which allows an injured person to do alternative duties or reduced hours while they recover from injury.
That proved a godsend.
But Carl says he couldn’t have done it without the support of his managers at St Peter’s School and the physios at Body Performance, a Cambridge-based rehabilitation clinic.
“It was still hard at times as I hate having to rely on other people,” he admits.
“I’m very hands on and I like to be the one organising things. I felt like a bit of a slob because I couldn’t do much.
“But it was great to know there was heaps of support around me, whether it was the students in my rugby team and classes, or staff at the school and the physios – they all made sure I was looking after myself and not doing too much.”
School support comes to the fore
Former Silver Ferns player and renowned netball coach Te Aroha Keenan is the Director of Sport at St Peter’s.
She knew how hard Carl would find being disconnected from his work. So she made sure the sports department staff did all they could to support him.
“He loves getting involved and he loves our students, so anytime he can get in front of them he always presents the best of himself,” she says.
“But it was a slow process because initially he thought he could do everything and we had to wean him off.
“He could do a lot of his admin from home and, if there were cones or gear to put out, other staff members would do that for him. We’d make sure he was set up for the day and was sitting on a chair, putting his foot up, whenever he could.”
‘It was a stressful time’
Carl’s wife Anna was his rock during this time.
“I was so lucky to have her,” he says.
“My three little girls are full of energy and they mean the world to me. So not being able to be 100 per cent engaged with them was challenging.
“Seeing Anna have to step up and do all of that was tough. But she was fully committed to my recovery, which was special.”
Making things even harder was that the young couple’s eldest child, Bella, had just started school on the same day dad snapped his Achilles.
“We don’t have family here in Cambridge so it was hard having Carl out of action and me needing to do everything around the house,” Anna says.
“Bella being at school was all new and we were just transitioning into that, so it was a stressful time.”
Wise words on staying injury free
While he is pleased to be a success story of Recovery at Work, Carl has no plans to repeat the experience anytime soon.
He’s learned a few lessons and has some good advice on staying injury free.
“If I was to look back now on when I did my injury, maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been,” he admits.
“I should’ve had a bit more of a warm-up and not been thinking the body was still 18-years-old and could fly through anything.
“The older you get, the more you have to look after yourself, warm-up properly and make sure every muscle is firing. That’s one key point I’ll take away.”
Our research shows Carl is right – most injuries are preventable.
If you take time to assess things and ‘Have a Hmmm’ before you get stuck in, you can keep doing the things you love.
Recovery at Work online resources
We're here to help make Recovery at Work easier and have created a range of helpful online resources to make Recovery at Work a success for you.
Learn more about what role you can play in Recovery at Work – whether you're an injured worker, an employer or a health provider – at our new online hub.