Early intervention can mean a range of different things to different people. In the context of workplace rehabilitation, the best approach to early intervention is prevention of injury through implementing best practices to ensure the physical and mental health safety of everyone in the workplace.
However, in the context of the facilitated conversation service, early intervention refers to a fast and proactive approach following a work injury claim. The purpose of the service is to re-establish a positive relationship between the injured worker and their employer, and minimise the risks for both parties. Data has indicated that the quicker the communication is re-established, the better the return to work outcomes. This service can be utilised for early intervention prior to the claim being determined, as it can be an effective way to resolve the issues and implement a return to work before a decision is made.
Ideally a referral for facilitated conversation will occur within the first 6 weeks of the issues arising between the injured worker and their employer. In many situations this may be in the first 6 weeks of the injury claim, however it can also occur later in the claim where relationship or interpersonal issues occur between the injured worker and their employer during the return to work process. Where it is not possible to commence this process within the first 6 weeks of the issues arising, later referrals can be made, however it is best to discuss the specific situation with the coach to determine if facilitated conversation is the most appropriate approach.
The purpose of the facilitated conversation is to assist the worker and their employer to engage in open and honest communication with each other, clarify issues, brainstorm and discuss a range of options for resolution and then agree on an action plan together. The earlier this process is commenced, the better the opportunity to gain a positive outcome for everyone involved. Where issues have been ongoing for 6 months or more, it may be more appropriate for the participants to be provided with a more formal mediation service to assist them to move forward together.