Helping people with health conditions or disabilities into work  

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
Social Development

A Canterbury trial which helps people with health conditions or disabilities to find and stay in work has been expanded to help hundreds more Cantabrians, Minister of Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, announced today.

Step Up is a partnership between the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), Canterbury District Health Board and Pegasus Health that started in March 2017.

Step Up has already helped 100 people who have a health condition, injury or disability who receive Jobseeker Support benefit to start employment or volunteer work or become more connected to society,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

 “I am pleased to announce that 200 people will have access to the Step Up Programme in Canterbury over the next 12 months.

The new and improved Step Up programme will:

  •      Fund 200 additional people to participate in the programme
  •      Provide intensive support for clients for 16-20 weeks (an extra 4 weeks)
  •      Extended the eligibility criteria to Canterbury clients who receive a main benefit

“The majority of people (75%) on the Step Up programme are living with mental health conditions and have struggled to find or stay in work,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Many find it hard to get a job, keep a job or start looking for one because they have ongoing health issues, little support or they’ve been discriminated against.

“It’s not just people on benefit with a health condition, injury or disability that experience mental illness. MSD figures from 2014 show that 45% of those on the Jobseekers-Work Ready benefit have accessed health services or another benefit for mental health reasons.

“That’s why we’re expanding the eligibility criteria so people on any main benefit in Canterbury can access the Step Up programme.

“This Government is committed to helping people gain meaningful and sustainable work and will continue to support programmes like Step Up that address the underlying health issues that are holding people back from finding and staying in work,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Key Components of the Step Up trial service are:

  • Health navigation support provided by Pegasus Health
  • Active case management from Work and Income
  • Access to four free health practitioner consultants
  • Access to flexi-wage where participants meet the criteria

MSD Canterbury Regional Director Shane Carter says that even after people are placed in jobs, MSD will continue to support those that need it so they do well and have sustainable work.

“MSD, Canterbury DHB and Pegasus Health are proud of the results in Step Up’s first year. Through Step Up, MSD Case Managers and Health Navigators meet regularly with clients to determine health barriers and offer support and encouragement to achieve what is right for the participant- whether it be training, income support or employment support,” Shane Carter said.

Pegasus Health’s Melissa McCreanor says the programme is a success because it allows people to really stop and think about their health, their wellbeing and the things that are preventing them from joining the workforce.

“We’re able to look at the complexity around their health issues, particularly mental health, and what kind of support they need to be able to focus on what they want to do with their lives- in terms of work or study and to improve their coping strategies longer term.” Melissa McCreanor said.