Epilepsy is a neurological condition which affects approximately 1% of the population, and which causes recurrent seizures. Although most people with epilepsy are able to completely control their symptoms with medication, when seizures do happen they can have an impact upon the individual's ability to control movement, emotional responses, and memory. It is therefore very important that employers, colleagues and service providers know what to do in case of a seizure and receive specific training on this if necessary.
Employers should work with the individual with epilepsy to form an action plan, and colleagues should be informed of what to do to support the individual (if the individual consents to this information being shared - as with any health concern, confidentiality is important both ethically and legally).
For more information on epilepsy please visit http://www.epilepsy.org.uk.
What can organisations do to help?
There are several things that organisations can do to improve inclusivity for service users, stakeholders, customers, and employees with epilepsy, including:
- Being aware of seizure triggers such as stress, anxiety, tiredness, or flashing lights and taking steps to eradicate these
- Around 5% of those with epilepsy are photosensitive. This means that low-frequency flickering lighting can cause seizures. Ensuring anti-glare screens are used and frequent breaks from looking at electronic equipment are encouraged.
- Switching to ordinary lightbulbs from fluorescent tube lighting where possible may also be beneficial
- Allowing time off for medical/hospital appointments
- Utilising a gradual return to work after illness or absence to minimise stress and fatigue
- Flexible working hours to allow the individual to manage their stress and fatigue as needed
- Acknowledging that anti-epilepsy medication can affect mood, concentration and memory
- Providing taxis or other transport if the individual is not able to drive due to epilepsy
- Provision of a quiet recovery room in case of seizure
- Consulting with people with epilepsy about their needs, and learning from disability rights activists - they know best what will support individuals with epilepsy and should always be the first port of call