“Rather than being in that clinical space … where they [injured workers] are the passive recipient at times of constant care, we’re a space where it’s their job to give care because the rescue animals really need their help”

– Zoe Black, CEO and co-founder of Happy Paws Happy Hearts

Disempowerment through direct medical care can be an unintended consequence for injured workers in the workers compensation system. Volunteer programs, such as those facilitated by Happy Paws Happy Hearts, can help to address this issue, building the confidence needed for injured workers to re-engage with work and their broader community.

Due to the wide understanding that volunteering may benefit injured workers in their return to life and work, ISCRR conducted an Environmental Scan for WorkSafe Victoria to better understand the current strategies for recruiting, implementing and sustaining volunteer programs for rehabilitation and recovery.

Social prescribing is one approach described in the scan to facilitate the matching of an injured worker to a suitable volunteer program for their tailored benefit. A number of programs were outlined as case studies including the Primary and Community Care Services’ Social Plus program.

The scan identified a number of recommendations for specific stakeholders to consider:

  1. Service providers: Partner with volunteer program providers that understand social prescribing and injured workers’ experiences. They are more likely to employ a holistic and person-centred approach to increase injured workers’ work readiness.
  2. Facilitators: Host facilities do not always have the capacity or capability to look after injured workers when they volunteer at their premises. It’s essential that an experienced facilitator at the host facility provides motivation, support and ongoing reviews for the injured workers on their recovery journey.
  3. Case managers: Training to understand the benefits of social prescribing would allow better matching of injured workers to the programs, and establish continuous support from case managers to promote the retention of injured workers in the program.

The full research report is available to download from the ISCRR Clearinghouse.

For further information, watch our ISCRR Learning Series webinar on Social Prescribing for injured workers.


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