It was an ordinary Wednesday at the UnitingCare Ageing facility when Jennifer Saben suffered a debilitating injury. As some were lim bering up for activities, the popular resident recreational officer lay helpless, reaching for her mobile phone to call for help.
“Not only did I lose my independence, but also my dignity,” said Jennifer.
She describes her accident as ‘challenging’ while she recalls suffering physical and psychological, continual and significant pain.
The single mother was found with two broken wrists and elbows after walking down an external corridor where she tripped and fell. The remarkable part of Jennifer’s story is not the calibre of her injuries, but her strength and determination to recover.
A deserving recipient of the Return to work achievement award for workers at the 2015 SafeWork NSW Awards, Jennifer attributes the fast recovery to her supportive family, colleagues, supervisors and residents.
Jennifer went from being an active and independent spirit to requiring the help of at least two people to sit up if she slid down in her bed. Having small mountains like this to climb every day paints a picture of how far off returning to work may seem – but not for Jennifer.
For the first eight weeks Jennifer was unable to use her arms and needed help with every aspect of her life, from eating and drinking to washing her hair.
Day by day, Jennifer was determined to maintain a positive attitude and to focus on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t. After all, her family and her residents needed her – so she pushed on one step at a time.
As is usually the case, her workplace was the most beneficial and productive place for her to be.
Those recovering from an injury can face challenges when returning to work, but the benefit of work outweighs the negatives. Jennifer speaks of the psychological effects of her incident and today still struggles to return to the corridor where it took place. Regardless, she describes the sense of accomplishment she found from recovering at work and regaining her capabilities.
“I surrounded myself with positivity and knew that being at work was the most important thing for my recovery. I was able to be with people again.
“Being in the company of friends and colleagues, as well as residents, gave me the motivation to keep going. I felt needed, missed and wanted,” she said.
The title of Jennifer’s SafeWork Awards entry was ‘Failure was no option’. In many ways, returning to everyday life and picking up where you left off is an extraordinary achievement.
The SafeWork Awards judging panel admired Jennifer’s strength and determination through a traumatic time. She has made an amazing recovery to return to her pre-injury duties, and is now undertaking all aspects of her role.
We know that courage is within all of us, with many of your stories of perseverance deserving the same accolades – stories that are worth sharing. If you have a story like Jennifer’s, why not enter the 2016 SafeWork Awards? Entries in the 2016 Awards are opening soon so register for updates and you’ll be notified when you can get involved.
SafeWork NSW has a number of programs to help get your workers back on the job – click here to get started.