The best jobs allow you to manage your Crohn’s symptoms while using your skills and strengths. Keep these tips in mind while looking for work.
Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affecting the digestive tract. IBD symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cramping and fatigue can make it challenging to keep up with the demands of the workplace. Additionally, workplace stress can lead to periods of relapse where the inflammation flares up.
Even with present symptoms, it's possible to hold down a job and thrive in the workplace while managing Crohn's disease. The right treatment plan and support at work can help you overcome the challenges and succeed with your employment goals.
In this guide, we look at the best jobs for someone with Crohn's disease and jobs to avoid. Plus, where to get support to find a job and thrive in the workplace.
Can you work with Crohn's disease?
Everyone's experience with employment and Crohn's disease is different. Most people are able to successfully hold down a job with the right supports in place.
Others may find they need time off work, or reduced work hours to manage their health. Accommodations like a flexible work schedule or having your desk close to the bathroom can reduce the stress of working.
If you're living with inflammatory bowel disease and want to work, we believe there are jobs and workplaces out there that are right for you. At APM, we support job seekers with Crohn's and other autoimmune diseases find meaningful work and succeed in the workplace. We've seen first-hand how working can improve your mental health, boost your confidence and give you a sense of purpose.
What are the best jobs for someone with Crohn's?
The best jobs for Crohn's patients allow you to manage your health while using your skills and strengths. Of course, everyone has different needs and goals when it comes to employment.
When looking for work, it's important to spend time thinking about the types of jobs and workplaces that would be a good fit for you. As well as work environments and job roles that would be challenging or stressful.
Consider the following types of work when looking for the best jobs for someone with Crohn's disease:
1. Jobs with a flexible schedule
It can be easier to manage your symptoms if you can work at your own pace and take breaks when you need to. Flexible jobs can also make it easier to keep your stress levels in check. Jobs like occupational therapy and social work tend to give you more control over your schedule throughout the day.
Look for jobs where you can take time off for doctor appointments, infusions and procedures. Some employers may be willing to let you start later in the day if you need more time in the morning.
Try to avoid jobs that are time-sensitive such as assembly line work or emergency response nursing. Jobs that require you to be present at all times, such as air traffic control, teaching or surgery, can also be challenging.
However, reasonable accommodations may help make the role less stressful. For example, teachers could have an education assistant in the classroom, allowing them to go to the bathroom when needed.
2. Work from home
Working from home could help you feel more comfortable and in control while you work. You'll have access to your own bathroom and privacy for taking medications. Plus, you won't have to travel to and from work, which can reduce stress and give you more time for rest.
Some employers may allow you to work home part time if you still need to be on site some days. You can also work at home for many freelance and contract jobs. Examples of remote jobs include: graphic designer, editor, content writer, customer service representative, personal assistant and online tutor.
3. Low stress work environments
Stress can lead to flare ups and relapse. While most workplaces will have some level of stress, try to avoid work environments that are fast paced, high pressure or highly unpredictable. Instead, go for a job where you can manage your stress levels and maintain a healthy work life balance.
Office based jobs like data entry, accounting and administration tend to be low stress. Some people find working from home helps them manage their stress levels best. Others find they feel most balanced and satisfied when working with others. Working in a role that aligns with your values or interests can also help keep stress levels in check.
4. Quick access to bathroom facilities
For many people with IBD, having quick access to bathroom facilities is a must. Jobs like construction work or surveying can be challenging if toilets are not nearby. Jobs that require you to travel frequently may also be stressful. For office-based jobs, having your work-station close to the bathroom facilities can make the work day more manageable.
5. Team work
If you're the only one in your team who can do your job, it might be harder to take time off work when you experience flare ups. On the other hand, you might find it less stressful working in a team where others can cover for you if you need. Check the sick leave policy of companies you’re applying to. Knowing you can take time off to manage your health, attend appointments or recover can help you feel more confident and supported at work.
6. Part-time work or shared roles
Working regular full time hours can be taxing, especially if you're experiencing regular flare ups or fatigue. It's important to put your health first. Working part time hours may help you stay in work while managing your recovery. Common part time jobs include retail assistant, courier, personal trainer, hair stylist and tutor. Keep in mind, many traditional full time jobs can also be redesigned as part time roles. If you're finding it hard to cope in your current job, you can get support to stay in work.
7. Work for yourself
If you're a motivated person, starting your own business could provide you with a high level of flexibility and control over your work life. Jobs like accounting, graphic design and translation can be done in a freelance capacity. If you're good with words, blogging, copywriting or editing might be a good fit. Some people start successful businesses based on their hobbies or interests, such as photography, jewellery making or yoga. If you're thinking of setting up your own business, you can access professional mentoring and support through Self Employment Assistance.
Get support to find a job that's right for you
Having a successful career while managing Crohn's disease is totally possible. It takes putting your health first and asking for support when you need it.
If you're having trouble finding work or holding down a job because of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis or another chronic health condition, support is available. You could be eligible for personalised support from APM through Disability Employment Services. All APM Employment Services are funded by the government, at no cost to you.
When you register with APM for Disability Employment Services, you'll get one-on-one support from an employment consultant. They'll work closely with you to find job opportunities that are a good fit for you. They'll also help you access workplace modifications and other other supports you might need to succeed in your role.
Ready to get started? Call us on 1800 276 276.