Swiss Re – ALUCA Return To Work Award Winner – Ben Crawley of BT Financial Group

Swiss Re and ALUCA were proud to partner for our third Excellence and Innovation in Return to Work Award this year. BT Financial Group’s submission detailing an innovative wellness recovery program for customers diagnosed with cancer secured the 2018 Award. Ben Crawley of BT has just returned from the International Forum of Disability Management (IFDM) in Vancouver, Canada (the Award prize) and has shared some of his key insights below. We also congratulate CommInsure for their highly commended paper on ‘human insurance’. To read more about the Award and to download all of the submissions, please click here

Carly Van Akker

I was lucky enough to attend the IFDM held in Vancouver this year after BT Financial Group won the Swiss Re & ALUCA Excellence and Innovation award for Return to Work following our submission paper: Giving customers with cancer an early chance at getting their life back on track.

The forum brought together many professionals who work across the globe in varying stakeholder roles and disability systems such as; social and disability services, workers compensation, and life insurance. The speakers were experts in their chosen fields who presented passionately about ways in which they have applied intervention strategies for bridging the gap and empowering those with a disability to function in society and return to good work. I was amazed at how consistent themes were presented across different developed countries and it has got me thinking on how we can apply new strategies to improve the health outcomes for our life insurance customers suffering from disabilities.

I particularly enjoyed hearing from Francois Perl (Director of Social Services – Belgium), Dr Joachim Breuer (Director General – German Social Accident Insurance – DGUV), Donal McAnaney (Chief Academic Officer at Pacific Coast University) and Graham Halsey (Director of Well Working Matters).

Francois, Joachim, and Donal communicated how the labour market is evolving at a rapid pace. The digitalisation of the modern world is creating new self-employment opportunities and short term contracted work through the “gig economy.” It is important for worldwide occupational health & safety risk systems and social services to keep up with this trend to reduce the new risks of occupational illness and disability, but also provide opportunities of good work for those transitioning into new employment when they may not be able to return to a previous occupation due to an illness or disability.

Speakers communicated on governing policy and the need for the different compensatory systems, social disability services, and life insurers to improve the lines of communication across systems in order to achieve a more coordinated approach improving the speed of appropriate interventions, thus facilitating improved return to good work outcomes for those with a disability. Without a unified approach, the costs and burden of disability will not only decrease the individual’s quality of life, but will also add pressure on social services to support individuals who develop chronic disability and extended absenteeism which inevitably leads to loss of employment.

Given BT’s paper on early intervention for management of cancer conditions, I was very interested in Graham Halsey’s presentation on “People with Cancer – The Hidden Workforce.” Graham, who has worked in the life insurance industry in the UK presented on good work being a part of Cancer treatment giving purpose, meaning and confidence to the individual. Graham communicated on the value of Occupational Rehabilitation support for opening lines of communication with employers and bridging the gap between treating parties for coordinating a safe return to good work.

Whilst the forum was insightful for many reasons, it was evident that managing mental illnesses continues to remain a significant challenge around the world. Disability and absenteeism from mental illness is on the rise in all countries. From the forum it was evident that there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness and a lack of understanding support those suffering, particularly with employer understanding and support networks at the workplace. The stigma of mental health varies significantly from industry to industry and a one size fits all approach for mental illness management may not be the answer. This is the next challenge to find solutions which will identify and provide the right care, support, and coaching to all stakeholders so that those with a mental illness can return to good work in a timely and sustainable manner.”

Ben has over 12 years’ experience across the Occupational Rehabilitation space, which spans across both Group and Life insurance.

He has worked in a variety of roles in an Exercise Physiologist space and involvement in early intervention programs for workplaces injuries, non-workplace related injuries and illnesses.

Ben has a strong passion of the value of appropriate early intervention strategies to support customers in achieving their best health outcomes.

In 2017 Ben commenced working with BT Financial Group with a strong focus on a new early intervention strategy for our customers diagnosed with Cancer and has recently developed a 12 month pilot called Cancer Assist Program (CAP) which was successfully awarded the Excellence and Innovation in Return to Work award.