Individual Placement Support (IPS); an intensive and collaborative program designed to help workers return to and maintain productive employment.
“A core concept of IPS is that no one who expresses a desire to work, regardless of their injury or illness, is excluded from the job market.”
Grace Cairns, Senior Manager, Customer and Claims Performance for Government Services, Allianz
It’s important for Australian employers to take the mental health of their workers seriously. The Productivity Commission’s 2020 Inquiry Report into Mental Health in Australia found that, ‘In 2018-19, the annual cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide was estimated to be $70 billion. The cost of disability and premature death due to mental illness, suicide and self-inflicted injury was equivalent to a further $151 billion, per annum’.
According to the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a person’s employment and income are intrinsic factors that directly affect their mental health. Gaining employment correlates with increases in global functioning, a reduction in mental illness symptoms, improved social functioning, and a self-reported increase in both self-esteem and overall quality of life. Clearly employment is beneficial. However, helping people who suffer long term mental health problems regain employment is no easy task. It’s this critical gap that Allianz aims to address with the introduction of the Individual Support Placement (IPS) program.
Adopted from a model currently used in Scotland, IPS has initially been launched as a pilot program by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz). IPS uses a proven methodology to reduce the long-term unemployment of workers with primary and secondary psychological injuries. Vocation deficits and cognitive impairments are addressed and supported within employment and support is ongoing once a worker has obtained new employment.
In practice, the Allianz Case Manager and a dedicated Rehabilitation Consultant will work collaboratively with the participant to understand their future workforce direction and what support they require. Working as a close-knit and coordinated team, IPS employs the following 7-step approach:
Step 1 – Goal setting.
All parties, in collaboration with the worker, will outline the process, explain roles, and set clear goals.
Step 2 – Job skills and mix.
The Rehabilitation Consultant speaks with the worker to understand their values, interests, and skills. The Consultant then uses their job network to engage with employers in the worker’s area of work to discover suitable roles and ensure a good fit for both worker and employer. This may involve some training or retraining, as required.
Step 3 – Reasonable adjustments.
The Rehabilitation Consultant will work with all parties in the program to put in place supports for the worker to ensure the best chance of a positive outcome. In this context, reasonable adjustments are those that do not have a detrimental effect on the worker and do not reduce the productivity and efficiency of the workplace.
Step 4 – Employee support.
The Rehabilitation Consultant and Allianz Case Manager offer the worker ongoing support to maintain their role and provide access to other support systems while they’re in the workplace.
Step 5 – Employer support.
The Rehabilitation Consultant will establish an open dialogue with the employer to identify and address any issues that may arise. These can include discussions around the worker’s requirements, to address any need for additional or different kinds of support.
Step 6 – Well at Work plan.
This is a proactive plan agreed upon by all parties. It details how the worker best functions at work and can include things like when they start and finish, when the employer can contact them, and how and when they take breaks (e.g. the worker might prefer several shorter breaks rather than one long lunch break).
Step 7 – Regular meetings.
Check in meetings occur on an ongoing basis as frequently as they are required. The aim of this step is to reach a point when the need for meetings become less frequent, or are no longer required.
Already utilised in several countries, IPS uses an evidence-based approach that has proven to be highly successful. Allianz and our partners will work collaboratively to deliver the IPS program here in Australia and we look forward to reporting on the future progress of the pilot.
If you would like to hear more about this offering and how Allianz may be able to assist your workplace please contact your client service manager or account manager.
This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at December 2021 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of the issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.