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Menopause matters

 


Dr Cecilia Akrisie Anim CBE, Former President, Royal College of Nurs

Social care employees are predominantly female many of whom are in their late 40s to mid-50s. A significant number will be experience symptoms associated with the menopause and as such need to be supported.

Menopause is when a woman stops having periods as she reaches the end of her reproductive life. This is not usually abrupt but a gradual process during which women experience peri-menopause before reaching post menopause.

The impact of this differs from woman to woman and the symptoms can vary in severity and type. The average age in the UK is 51 years and it is important that women need to be supported at work due to the impact on their quality of life.

The menopause happens at a stage in a women’s life which may in itself be a period of change; for example children may be leaving home, women may be experiencing relationship problems or find themselves single, they may be caring for elderly parents or have long term health issues themselves.

There is another 1-10% of the population who experience early menopause due to ovarian insufficiency or a surgical removal of the ovaries and will have the same symptoms in addition to being infertile.

Menopause can be viewed as a liberation from periods and pregnancy and for employers the benefit could be no need for maternity leave.

Menopause can also be associated with physiological and psychological effects both at home and in the workplace.

Employers support in the workplace

Menopause should be treated as an occupational health issue and as such there is a need for greater awareness in the work environment with a positive work place culture.

The employer has a duty under The Work and Safety at Work Act 1974 for the safety and welfare of all employees as far as reasonably practicably.

There are various measures that an employer can put into place to support this:

  1. Workplace support through occupational health and access to information

 

  1. Workplace adjustments to minimise the effect of symptoms, such as:

 

  • Flexible working
  • Temperature control with increased ventilation
  • Regular  breaks with easy access  to the toilet
  • Workplace wellbeing policies to include the menopause
  • Medical help and advice through women’s health networks
  • Support through counselling and 1-1 meetings, dialogues and conversations, and a healthy work environment for everyone with  peer support

 

  1. Tools for Managers
  • Workplace Passports and symptoms monitoring are useful tools when an employee changes Line Manager, acting as an aide memoire to start a conversation about issues like mental health and wellbeing

 

  1. Reviewing workloads and looking at retraining in order to aid staff retention, such as:

 

  • Sign posting to online resources and networks
  • Agreeing a plan with the employee  to make the necessary adjustments whilst respecting privacy and confidentiality
  • Work Place Adjustment Passport to record conversation between managers and employees
  • An awareness that mood swings, difficulty in concentration or lack of it ,anxiety and depression, headaches, joint pains, sleep disorders and fatigue can impact performance at work
  • Handling absences with sensitively

Finally, it is important to remember that employees have a right to privacy and disclosure under the Data Protection Act, The Equality Act 2010, The GDPR and The Disability Discrimination Act 2010

 

 

Box out:

References

NICE guidelines Menopause diagnosis ang Management 2015

The Menopause at Work for RCN Reps 2017

Cross Govt Menopause Group Publications;

  • Menopause Guiding Principles for Employees & Managers 2019
  • Toolkit Menopause at work Employees 2019
  • Managers Toolkit Supporting Menopause at Work 2019

 

quotes:

 

“Menopause should be treated as an occupational health issue.”

“Social care employees are predominantly females in their late 40s to mid-50s”

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