Multiple Sclerosis Work Space

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. As a result, it impacts the way the brain communicates with the rest of our body. The disease is more common in women and adults between 45-74 years of age. MS affects everyone differently. Some individuals may experience symptoms such as fatigue, numbness or tingling, and vision problems while others may not experience any symptoms at all.

MS Work Space is a resource sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb for use by employers to help support their employees that are living with multiple sclerosis. The website has a resource tool that allows employers to estimate the number of people in their company who may have MS. The MS Estimator first asks about the type of work performed by the employer and then more generalized questions about employees, such as the number of employees in the organization, age range, region of the country they live in, and the male:female ratio. The results are simply a representation and meant for informational and educational purposes only. Additional resources such as a Caregiver Census, Benefits Checklist, and strategies on how to implement a program for employees with MS are available for employers. The Caregiver Census allows employers to understand the importance of caregiving amongst their employees and how it impacts workplace performance. MS Work Space also offers podcast episodes that discuss the nature of the disease and its impact within the working environment. Examples of podcasts that are available include “The Effect of Chronic Diseases like MS on Your Organization,” “Helping Your Employees with MS and Chronic Disease,” and “The Financial Realities of MS for Employers & Employees.”

The goal of MS Work Space is for employers and organizations to recognize the impact as they work toward accommodating people with multiple sclerosis. For example, employers can experience numerous advantages by implementing accommodations like periodic rest breaks, adjustable workstations, fans and portable air conditioners, enlarged keyboards, and/or modified break schedules for their employees impacted by MS. Some of those benefits include increased productivity, decreased costs with new employee training, increased attendance, and more.

This MS platform brings awareness to employers so they can make those accommodations for their employees. PHSL research has not identified any other manufacturer-sponsored employer resources on the web that focus on a specific disease (Please share updates if this changes). Resources for accommodations and support of employees with chronic conditions are often available from national organizations, such as the American Diabetes Association. However, MS Work Space presents unique resources that may not be applicable to all conditions. Other chronic conditions that may benefit from similar employer resources include arthritis, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and behavioral conditions.  Employers may already be identifying opportunities to support employees by offering mobile apps such as “Gympass” and “Talkspace” focused on prevention and management of chronic conditions.  Based on the success of MS Work Space, it will be interesting to see if more manufacturer-sponsored, employer-focused programs emerge.

 

Posted: October 2022

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