Open for business: Disability Management Centre

Mark Miller, UNDE; Glenn MacDougall, Acting DGWM; Nicole Schaaf, Office of Disability Management, and Capt(N) Jason Boyd cut the ribbon marking the regional office of Disability Management opening. Photo by Peter Mallett

Mark Miller, UNDE; Glenn MacDougall, Acting DGWM; Nicole Schaaf, Office of Disability Management, and Capt(N) Jason Boyd cut the ribbon marking the regional office of Disability Management opening. Photo by Peter Mallett

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A new disability management centre opened for business in Esquimalt last Friday with a mandate to provide improved case management services for ill, injured and impaired DND civilian employees.

Glenn MacDougall, the Acting Director General of Workplace Management (DGWM), representing Assistant Deputy Minister Human Resources Civilian, presided over the opening ceremony for of the new regional Office of Disability Management on Oct. 19. 

Located in Naden, the new centre is operated by the civilian human resources branch of the Department of National Defence and is a key component of DND’s Total Health and Wellness Strategy. It offers support services including work and non-work-related accidents, injuries, illness or impairment; and recovery, return to work, accommodation and medical retirement.

MacDougall said the opening of the new centre supports Canada’s Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged, and its objective to sustain a healthy, respectful and safe workplace. He emphasized that the Office of Disability Management will tackle the stigma surrounding mental health-related illnesses.

“We have to continue to build programs that support employees and managers, provide easily accessible tools and above all, create a culture that promotes employee health and wellbeing,” he said. “Taking care of our mental health is just as important, but we’re not as good as we need to be at recognizing what that looks like, especially in the workplace.”

The regional Office of Disability Management employs four full-time case workers who are supported by a national team at multiple centres across the country. They will initially serve CFB Esquimalt but will eventually expand operations by the end of the fiscal year to include Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.

Representatives from the local disability management community including unions, WorkSafe, Health Canada, Pacific Coast University, and support service agencies were involved in the development and implementation of the Office of Disability Management attended the ceremony to celebrate their collective achievements.

Base Commander Captain (Navy) Jason Boyd also attended the ceremony and was encouraged by the opening of the regional office.

“We all hope that we’ll never get sick or hurt, but the reality is that many of us will face these kinds of challenges while at work,” he said. “On behalf of every member of the Defence Team who supports CFB Esquimalt I am very grateful that if that day comes, the Office of Disability Management will be here to help.”

The new case management model was created to be an impartial, collaborative and an inclusive group says Nicole Schaaf, National Manager, Office of Disability Management.

“The Office of Disability Management provides tools and guidance to enable employees to either stay at work, or to support them from the onset of leave through a safe and successful return to the workplace,” said Schaaf.

Previously, when a civilian employee was injured, the employer’s Statement of Injury was sent by their supervisor or manager to a central mailbox and forwarded to Employment and Social Development for review and approval before they were sent to WorkSafeBC. The onus was largely on the ill or injured employee and their manager to navigate the complex process on their own. Under the new program, as soon as a manager or employer is aware of any injury or illness they are encouraged to engage the Office of Disability Management. A Disability Management Advisor is then assigned to the case. This neutral party will provide personalized, expert case management services to guide the employee and manager through every step of the process including assistance with forms, benefits, leave, tracking, RTW planning and much more.

Offices in Esquimalt and CFB Halifax became the first regional centres in operation this month following the successful launch of a pilot project in the National Capital Region in May 2017.   A review of the pilot project by HR Civ found implementation of the Office of Disability Management created substantial service improvements and cost savings. Their findings showed a decrease in sick leave without pay; reductions in lost productivity, and reduction in longstanding disability cases. 

Schaaf said the new system also addresses a growing percentage of DND short and long-term disability claims related to mental health issues.

“The Office of Disability Management, in partnership with key stakeholders, aims to be a collaborative and inclusive entity that facilitates a supportive, safe workplace while reducing the stigma of mental health issues,” said Schaaf. “The Office of Disability Management is recognized as a key pillar of the Total Health and Wellness Strategy and its services are eagerly awaited.”

For more information about the Office of Disability Management or to file a claim send an email to ++Disability Management – Gestion d’Invalidité@ADM(HR-Civ) DGWM@Ottawa-Hull or by telephone at 1-833-893-3388.

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