I was invited to speak about technological advances in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation at the CMSUK Conference on the 10 November 2016.
Voc-Rehab UK uses a number of modern vocational and functional tools and so it was fairly easy to give a quick but comprehensive overview about what is available to vocational evaluators.
Vocational rehabilitation is a process that enables return to work support for injured or ill individuals; essentially, technology is a tool that makes this process possible.
In Vocational Rehabilitation, technology means:
·       Easy access to information that provides the best solutions
·       Speed and convenience for the practitioner to assess the required resources
·       Ability to produce high quality work
·       Value of recommendations to customers and our clients

Then and now
In the “olden days”, helping a client to return to work meant taking and keeping handwritten notes, manually searching for vacancies in the newspapers, printing CVs and typing letters. The process was labour intensive!
Nowadays, technology helps to deliver Vocational Rehabilitation services in many different ways.
·       Notes. Notes can be taken electronically and synchronised on all devices.
·       Storage.Cloud based storage solutions allow to avoid generating piles of paperwork. Documents are received, scanned and stored electronically.
·       Data Protection. Secure cloud storage and databases enable compliance with the Data Protection Act.
·       Reports. Report writing is made easier with voice activated software.
·       Vocational exploration. Various career exploration software, databases, smart phone career applications and resources are available.
·       Gadgets. When functional assessments are performed, smart watches can be useful to set reminders to check the client’s heart rate and monitor their pain levels at the regular intervals.


Technology for career exploration
Each of our clients requires bespoke support. To enable this, speedy access to various information is essential, in order tailor vocational support to our clients’ needs.
For Voc-Rehab UK, technology is invaluable in helping to evaluate the following information when conducting Career Redirection assessments, Complete Functional Career Profiling (injury assessments) and Transferable Skills Analysis (Income Protection):
       Salary estimation
       Work function
       Occupational profiling
       Physical job demands
       Labour market information
Technology for functional evaluation
A number of functional tools are available to vocational evaluators. Some of them have been recently upgraded and some of them are new to the UK vocational rehabilitation market.
·       Jamar pinch gauge, digital: records and stores client’s scores
·       Complete Minnesota Dexterity Test is now available in the updated format.
·       Purdue Pegboard: now with an application for ipads and smart phones that allows easy to understand audio commands, as well as to record and store client’s scores. It also enables comparisons to normative data sets.
·       Jamar Smart is the latest grip strength dynamometer on the market. The device connects to an Ipad application via Bluetooth, provides audio signals for easy test administration, as well as visual graphs. It calculates results and normative comparisons automatically.
·       Multidimensional Task Ability Profile (MTAP). The MTAP measures the client’s self-reported functional ability, identifies their strengths and weaknesses, highlights consistency of responses and links the scores to the appropriate physical job demands.
Why use Technology in Vocational Rehabilitation?
Technology helps Vocational Consultants to focus on the client’s function and ability, not just the diagnosis.
For example, for our Complete Functional Career Profile assessment, we apply this formula:
Client interview + MTAP + functional evaluation = full picture of the client’s abilities and limitations.
This approach enables us to ensure any recommended careers are functionally suitable for our clients.  
From Russia – with love
I started vocational work as a Disability Employment Advisor in a small northern Russian town some 20 years ago (-25 in winter, and all!), with two main tools available to me: a pen and a notepad.
Now I have access to all the latest vocational functional technology.
It is absolutely amazing to be able use these tools to deliver quality vocational rehabilitation, to help our clients to progress to their best possible outcomes, as well as being able to answer referrers’ questions in very complex, serious injury cases, in detail.
And so to finish this article, I just wanted to say: “From “Russia – with love”.
Katya Halsall, Director
Voc-Rehab UK
WE GET PEOPLE BACK TO WORK
#VocRehabUK #WorkIsGood
W: voc-rehab.uk
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Twitter: @HalsallKatya / @EHS_VocRehab