The local ME/CFS group on the Isle of Man has launched a brand-new service aimed at the business community – a workshop called ‘Post-Viral Recovery in the Workplace'.
It digs deep into that well of worry that's developing among employers about the growing crisis of absenteeism caused by Long Covid, the new post-viral lllness that looks in so many respects like ME/CFS.
ME Support (IoM), who last summer campaigned for a specialist health service in the island, launched the workshop in association with Manx Industrial Relations Service at a well-known bar and grill in the centre of Douglas earlier this month. They were invited to the meeting by members of the island branch of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Explaining the move, Juan Corlett from ME Support (IoM) said: “The event was really well received by those attending and is a great way for our charity to reach a wider audience amongst the business community.
“I have also learnt today that ACAS, the dispute resolution service, are showing interest in the subject, following a recommendation by MIRS and may wish to run events in the UK. Watch this space…”
Juan, a highly qualified chartered accountant, was an accountancy company director on the island until he went down with M.E. In the workshop, he reflected on his 10-year journey recovery from the virus which caused it and said the threat of post-viral fatigue was often under-estimated in the workplace.
Ten years ago, he said, his life could have turned round for the better if only he had been able to recognise the mistakes made when he attempted to recover from an Epstein Barr Virus infection, which led to him becoming acutely ill with M.E.
He spoke about the potential for damage to health if post-viral fatigue is mismanaged in the workplace, how relapses can occur and the vital importance of good-quality, early advice for employers and their staff.
Damian Warburton, of Manx Industrial Relations Service, co-produced the presentation. He talked about the need to guidance to be provided on supporting employees with long-term health conditions and the duty of care owed to staff with chronic conditions.
The workshop included a mixture of filmed interviews with Juan, and with ME Association medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd and Juan's therapist, Lesley Pickering, who is director of the North West Fatigue Service in Blackburn, Lancashire.
After the meeting, Clare Conie, chair of the local CIPD and executive director of human resources for the Isle of Man Government, urged employers to learn more about the issue of post-viral fatigue in the workplace.
UPDATE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SPECIALIST SERVICE
Following last year's campaigning by ME Support (IoM), Isle of Man Government Treasury Minister David Ashford announced on 15th February this year that £408,000 had been aside in his budget to set up a joint ME/CFS and Long Covid service on the island. The signs are very hopeful but, as Juan told us earlier this year, “we're not yet counting our chickens” until his members see results.