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Disability Narratives

Jo has a long term back pain, which ranges from mild to severe.

Image representing Jo Z© Disability Narratives


at the time of the interview – 2016

Jo is an administrator at the university.

Extended biography

at the time of the interview - 2016

Jo role is largely office based, but does involve her visiting other offices, colleges and departments around the university.

Jo has a long term chronic back condition that can flare up at any time, for any reason and at its worse can impair her walking and mean she has to take strong painkillers. At other times it can be quite mild and can be caused by simply sitting down or standing up for too long. A problem for Jo is that she is not able to predict what her needs will be.

Jo had several days off over a period of a few weeks because of her back pain. When she returned to work her manager offered to refer her to Occupational Health (OH). Previously Jo had declined the offer, but this time she said "yes". Jo said she did not really know what they could do, but a quick look on the OH website was helpful and reassuring.

Jo said her appointment with OH was very helpful. They asked her to detail her injuries and experiences of back pain over the years. She said it felt they were really trying to get a rounded picture of her case, something she had never taken the time to go through in detail before. They made several recommendations, some of which like a rise and fall desk she did not take up. However, the desk assessments, adjustable chair and footstool were very helpful. Jo said that she also felt that if things changed over time she would be able to talk to her line manager about what she needed.

I've just felt perfectly at ease, right from the start, in saying [to my manager] "Look, this is a problem - help."

Jo said that one source of anxiety for her is the availability of adjustable chairs when she is away from her office. She has found that the wrong chair can quickly cause her problems.

Jo felt that her experiences of the support she has received have been wholly positive. Part of this has been her line manager's attitude, which has been very supportive. The support she has received from her department has meant she can stay in a job she enjoys doing. Jo felt that while ensuring good guidance and policies are in place is important across the university, what has made the difference for her are the good interpersonal relations that exist in her department.

Biography at the time of the interview - 2016