The Empowerment Project

We asked Mandy Whalley, Associate Specialist Rehabilitation Occupational Therapist at Think Therapy 1st to tell us about the Empowerment Project.

The Empowerment Project has been something I have been working on since 2012

It was borne out of desperation when my son (who has autism and learning disabilities) was transitioning from education and wanting employment. He was offered a job at a local pub, but I was concerned about how he would manage in this environment with no support or understanding of his unique style of communication and work ethic. I liaised with the employer and soon identified a gap in having a self-reporting tool to communicate any adjustment needs and how they can be met. I remembered the aim of health passports so I applied the same principle to the employment when seeking opportunities.

After many years development and refining, the Empowerment passport (EP) was created as an online electronic questionnaire enabling people with disabilities and long-term conditions to identify their own support and adjustments needs for their role in preparation for a discussion with the employer.

The EP is portable, can be updated easily and shared easily and is an unmet need and gap in communication. The EP empowers the individual, to decide what works well for them and what does not, to enable solutions to be openly discussed and thereby breaking down the barrier of assumptions and ignorance and encouraging open conversations about reasonable adjustments.

The objective is to communicate physical, intellectual, emotional, and social challenges that can be easily met by using EP framework.

Genevieve Smyth, professional adviser for RCOT and work had tweeted about a competition with the international longevity centre about a project called ‘work for tomorrow’. In this tweet, Genevieve asked if there were any budding innovative solutions OTs had worked on to support the health of the older workforce.

It is well known we have an aging population globally, coupled with the fact that many people are finding they have to work longer than previous generations due to economic and social changes. It is recognised work is needed to address this change, therefore the international longevity centre has taken the initiative to set up a competition asking for innovations from individuals, companies or organisations to help tackle the issue of working well in the older workforce. It is known from RCOT publications good work is good for your health but how is this done? What are the barriers and what are the solutions to enable employers to investment in the retention of an experienced workforce?

The deadline was tight!! There was only had 48 hours to submit solution in order to enter into this completion. Wanting very much to demonstrate the versatility of this tool that not only supports disabled individuals in work but individuals who may acquire health conditions due to the aging process. It is equally important to hear their voice. So, I decided to enter and was thrilled to learn I was one of only 10 organisations internationally to be selected for the shortlist from over 50 applicants.

I have a ‘Dragons Den style pitch in February 2022 to showcase what this tool does

Wish me luck!

We’ll update you about Mandy’s pitch when we hear.