Services and Information

A Team Approach to Vocational Rehabilitation

What is the intake process for people funded by Government of Canada (CareerFriends)?

Clients, applying for services, complete an application form for services. Eligibility for services is determined in this interview(s). The client’s primary and any secondary disabilities/health related issues are identified, and potential barriers to employment are identified. The main question we are asking with the client is: “How does your health/disability impact your ability to find and/or maintain work?”

A justification for services is determined and a decision is made regarding client eligibility based on the information provided. The counselor conducting the intake interview may call the referral source for more information, if the information is unclear and with the client’s consent. Principles of workplace safety provided under the provisions of the Occupational Health & Safety Act are reviewed and discussed. At the end of the intake interview(s) (can take up to 3 sessions), the client will typically be informed of acceptance into the appropriate Vocational Rehabilitation program. If the client is ineligible for services, we will inform and, when appropriate, referral to other community resources.

What if the client is medically stable and ready to return to work, but is unsure of their ability to work? Understanding the use of PGAP...

Sometimes in getting ready to return to work, clients who are experiencing chronic pain and/or illness have lost their daily routine and are very unsure of their ability to work. In these cases, we may facilitate job readiness using the Progressive Goal Attainment Program. This is a standardized intervention in which "activity is used as a tool to reduce the negative impact of psychosocial risk factors of disability." The client is coached to develop a schedule of activity that will help refute disability beliefs, essentially using home and exercise activity as a model of being back-to-work. We view this as the client's 'at-home' work trial. This is an evidenced-based program with proven results in facilitating back-to-work outcomes.

What are some instances in which a client is viewed ineligible for services?

A client who has disabilities may be ineligible if they are currently working in a suitable job, e.g. managing well in their current job and earning a viable income. However, if the client is underemployed or needs a job change for medical reasons, then services may be considered. A client who is receiving Medical Employment Insurance benefits is ineligible. Clients may only require parts of our programs, e.g. perhaps only assistance with resume development. Individual needs are identified and services delivered based on these needs. Occasionally, the screening interview may take more than one meeting to determine justification for services. A client who is currently working but the job is considered to be unsuitable may require approval to proceed from the contract manager with Alberta Works. If the client is unable to obtain medical confirmation of diagnosis, services are delayed.

Why is a medical confirmation of diagnosis required?

A medical confirmation of diagnosis on file is important in planning of your services. Most importantly, it is used in the vocational assessment process, in suitable job targeting and determination of accommodation needs. It provides for continuity of care and collaboration amongst all service providers. The medical confirmation of diagnosis form is available for completion on this website.

With the patient’s/client’s consent, It can be completed by the patient’s/client’s family physician, medical specialist, psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health therapist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, or chiropractor. Medical reports are most helpful, e.g. EMG studies, MRI/CT scan results, psychological assessments, functional capacity evaluations, hearing tests, medical specialist reports, etc. Including these expedites the process and helps greatly in providing a high-quality service to the client. A form letter to physicians addressing the requirement for a medical confirmation of diagnosis may be found on this website. We operate and are bound by patient/client privacy legislation. The information you submit on behalf of your client is respected and confidentiality is maintained.

What does the Vocational Rehabilitation Process include?

There are five steps to our services: Screening, Assessment, Career Exploration, Job Search Training and , Job/Education Placement, and Follow-along support services (typically 6 to 8 months). The length of time the client participates in these steps depends on the individual client need and his/her Client Investment Plan. Clients who access all aspects of our services, including follow-up typically work with us over a period of 8 - 10 months.

Explain your vocational assessment process:

Following acceptance into services, a Vocational Assessment is completed. A comprehensive, abilities focused approach is used understanding that in addition to a client’s primary and secondary disabilities, many factors may impact an individual’s ability to secure and maintain suitable, long term work. Comprehensive information is gathered including the client’s current circumstances and barriers to employment encountered, results of any independent job search strategies, health history, therapies participated in, other agency involvement, functional abilities, work readiness and work motivators, work interests, work history, educational background, aptitudes, attitudes, work ethics and values, social history, current sources of support, family and social issues, legal background, financial issues, volunteer work history, associated skills identification, hobbies and leisure activities, availability of good work references, preliminary job targeting, preliminary vocational goals identification, and completion of a ‘Client Service Plan.’

Transferable skills are identified. Work interest inventories and aptitude testing may be completed to assist with suitable job targeting. The client is assisted with suitable job targeting and short, intermediate and long term vocational goals are identified. Clients are encouraged to identify at least 3 suitable job targets to ensure an adequate employer base. A client may be placed in a work experience program where their on-the-job skills can be further developed (specific eligibility criteria apply for this aspect of services). Further counseling may be required based on the results of the workplace assessment.

How do you approach your job search and job maintenance training?

Employment/Job Search Services are delivered once the Vocational Assessment and/or the Career Exploration phase(s) are completed. In this phase of the program, the client is provided with a comprehensive Job Search Manual for their reference that is reviewed and discussed at length with them. However, our focus is on “action” and having clients practice and use the skills he/she is being taught.

The client is assisted with resume and cover letter writing, writing thank you letters, interviewing skills training including conducting informational interviews, how to access advertised and hidden job markets, job lead generating, how to stay positive, disability disclosure decisions, conducting warm and direct employer contacts, planning and organizing their job search efforts, using the internet as a job search tool, using R. Work Group’s extensive employer database, identifying assistive technology/resources/services if required, and implementing effective job search strategies.

Clients are encouraged to use R. Work Group office space as their “Job Search Office”. Numerous software programs are available such as Typing Tutor and interactive interviewing skills training for clients to use. Job search efforts are monitored and evaluated on an on-going basis. Clients are encouraged to complete a coached job search. One of the goals of the Vocational Rehabilitation program is to achieve or restore independence and to teach the client how to proceed independently once the program is completed. It is hoped the client will then know what to do when faced with any future job searches.

When do you use ‘direct job placement” services (i.e., when does RWG contact the employer and coordinate the worksite on the client’s behalf?)

Occasionally, a client experiences significant difficulties conducting an effective coached job search for various reasons. The client then may be considered for assistance with meeting with employers, and in some instances, a wage subsidy is used with an employer to facilitate hiring. Please note that the wage subsidy funding is only available to clients eligible for the federally funded CareerFriends program.

Do you assist clients with returning to school?

Yes. Some clients may be encouraged and assisted to upgrade their educational background and continuing education options are researched. Funding may be available through Alberta Human Services Disability Related Employment Support Program for assistive technologies/resources and/or continuing education.

Besides formal training, what other training options do you access?

Some clients are eligible for specific course funding (short-courses only) that will help with skill development. To access this funding, the client must be in our CareerFriends program and have confirmed employment that justifies the additional skills training.

What happens when a client is unable to complete your services?

Occasionally, a client may have to discontinue the program. This can happen if their health status deteriorates. In this case, the client would be referred to the appropriate service or agency for alternate assistance if necessary. Client’s can be re-apply for services at a later date, when appropriate.

Do you have a referral form?

We do have a referral form. The referral form can be found here on our website. We find it helpful if the client also calls and books an appointment directly; however, upon your request and receipt of the referral form, we will initiate contact with the client.

Individualized Services Available Include:

A. Vocational Assessment and Action Plan Development

-Determine client vocational strengths and needs through use of counselling and assessment tools.
- Develop an individualized action plan with the client identifying goals and timelines.
- Identify a minimum of 3 job targets that meet gainful earnings requirements

B. Career Counselling

Delivery of career counselling services according to The Five Stages of Career Counselling:

Stage 1: Understand Self (values and needs; interests; abilities, aptitudes, and skills; temperaments).

Stage 2: Understand the Environment (family, culture, and society; sociological perspectives on the work environment; occupational and educational information).

Stage 3: Understand the Decision Making Process

Stage 4: Implement Career Decisions

Stage 5: Adjust, Adapt and Advance

C. Job Search Techniques Training

Job Search Strategies – the client is provided individualized training and support on how to find a job following the behaviorial approach to training, similar to that outlined in the Job Club Method[2]and according to his/her “Employee Profile.” Accessing the hidden job market is our focus.

Resume and cover letter writing – typically the resume is written with the client and they are trained in how to edit and use this as a tool. The same approach is taken with covering and thank-you letter writing.

Interview Coaching – clients are trained on effective interview skills through educational materials, role playing (including video taping when suitable), and use of an interactive Interview Skills training computer program.

Job Placement – clients are coached in how to connect with the appropriate employers in both the advertised and hidden job market. Focus is placed on how to access the hidden job market.

D. Adjustment Counselling

There are two client computers with internet access at our Grande Prairie office. The client will have access to these resources for researching job leads, revising/printing resumes and covering letters. Employer directories, job postings received by R. Work Group, and various print materials on job search are available from our library for clients to access.