Georgia, a white female, with brunette hair in a white dress with strawberries on it looking out over to the River Thames.
Disability Rights

Is Positive Disclosure Talked About in Your Workplace?

Hello! Sorry it’s been longer than planned, bugs and getting back into uni all the usual chaos at this time of year! But, I’m back and I want to talk about something that I do a lot of work on yet I’ve only casually mentioned it on my blog and that’s positive disclosure.

Positive disclosure is something that I talk a lot about particularly at work and have delivered a few presentations on this with my colleague Samantha Tavender. We even talked about this at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference this Summer. Most recently I have been talking about positive disclosure during my work with the Health & Care Professions Council, during this time I have been reflecting on this a lot and it has made me realise how complex positive disclosure can be.

Positive disclosure is about creating a safe and supportive environment whereby individuals can positively disclose their needs. In the context of practice, this would be a conversation between employee and employer perhaps to ensure what reasonable adjustments need to be put into place. BUT (and there’s a big but) the unique thing about positive disclosure is that it is an ongoing conversation recognising that needs change over time. Therefore, this safe and supportive environment must be created so that the individual feels comfortable with disclosing. This is not just at one time or annual reviews, individuals must feel comfortable to disclose whenever they need to due to personal circumstances or perhaps a reasonable adjustment they’ve tried isn’t working.

This I think is the biggest difference when it comes to positive disclosure which is enabled by this positive environment. If this positive environment isn’t created someone may not disclose something really important until that annual review when they’re at breaking point and vulnerable to burnout. This is why positive disclosure must be a crucial and regular part of practice.

Positive disclosure isn’t a tick-box exercise and should be done with compassion and empathy. As occupational therapists this is in our human nature to use that and therapeutic skills to support our colleagues. I’m not saying OT your colleagues but you can use some of your OT skills without going into full OT mode. We’re not service users as disabled colleagues but some of us do need more support and that’s okay. For example, Samantha is my buddy at work, I really couldn’t do it without her even when I’m working from home I’m texting her hourly to ask her a query. I know, that Samantha uses some of her OT skills to help me especially when I’m flapping about potentially running out of spoons before I’ve even got there and that’s okay, I appreciate her for that.

Positive disclosure has helped me massively to be open and honest about my needs at work. Not only this the best part about positive disclosure is that I get to draw on my strengths to show what my lived experience brings to the table making me a better occupational therapist! Which if you read my blog a lot you’ll know is right up my street!

This is when things get more complicated as we all know what happened when I positively disclosed to HCPC but things are changing! Due to processes and fitness to practice procedures, the set-up isn’t there just yet for registrants to positively disclose to HCPC. Although it’s unfortunate I do understand that because of the current infrastructure promoting positive disclosure can’t be done overnight.

If you don’t want to disclose I’m not saying that you should. I’m coming it from the perspective of ensuring HCPC practices align with whats been done in the workplace and positive disclosure should be promoted in the workplace. Again, disclosure is a personal choice but there are a lot of reasons why people don’t disclose. Yet, providing the space for positive disclosure can help individuals feel comfortable when disclosing if they need to disclose to support their practice.

However, going back to HCPC some changes can be made to at least be heading towards positive disclosure and aligning with practice. After what has been a challenging time I am happy to be now collaborating with HCPC to work towards this. I am looking forward to doing this work I am fully aware that I cannot represent every person but I will try and do my best with what I can do! You know, I’m rubbish at keeping secrets so I’ll update you as soon as I can!

I would like your help to continue this work, what changes do you think could be made to support positive disclosure when it comes to registering, re-registering with HCPC and in the workplace? 

Thank you for reading, 

Georgia x 

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