Changing career after an RA diagnosis

So I was wondering if anyone who got diagnosed with RA continued to change career if they found out mid way through planning or did it anyway. I hate my local authority job, my new boss is a bully and the job is very stressful. I wanted to change career to something less desk based but was diagnosed with RA. The occupational therapist has told me I should be happy in my cushy public sector job as they have better sick regulations and I should forget any idea of doing a more physical job and that in effect I need to cling on to this job no matter how rubbish I'm treated because RA makes me unemployable. I feel very low with this and feel like I've been completely written off. Everyone is telling me I have no future now but to hope I'm not made redundant from my current job though in reality the new boss is making my life has hard as possible. Tripling my workload and removing the special adjustments I had.

Has anyone got any tales of hope out there...

I have swollen joints but no erosion yet

18 Replies

  • I would take all this to the union. Special measures to account of your disability should not be removed, it could be considered an offense under the equality act. You need advice.


  • Not in the Union. They drink with the bosses and side with them on everything. Everyone has left Unison at work

  • Then off you go to CAB or see an employment solicitor, get yourself genned up.

  • I changed jobs after my diagnosis as I knew that I would never manage the on call at nights that I had. Sometimes I had to work part-time for a while, but often managed to combine two part-time jobs in order to earn enough money. I had to learn to be very assertive and to emphasise what I could do (not what I couldn't). But I managed to work until 65yrs (from 37yrs at diagnosis). On the other hand I don't have aggressive RD and although I've had a couple of episodes in a wheelchair am still walking around.

  • Hi Frankiefarr

    I have RA and is 34 yrs old. About the 16th December 2016 I started suffering with bad pains in left knee due to RA so had to go to GP for stronger pain relief. Come the Tuesday afternoon once I finished work the pain was so bad I could barely walk or stand still through the pain. I phoned my GP who gave me a sick note then til me to get complete rest. Still off work & due back next week.

    When I phoned my manager a week ago to say that my GP don't think I'm ready to go back to work for 2 weeks she questioned whether I can still do the job as I work as a cook. So on Wednesday I phoned NRAS helpline and the lady I spoke to was very helpful. I was told that there's different things your employer can do to keep you in the job and therefore sent me an booklet for my employer with a booklet for myself. It might be worth you ringing them up to ask for info about RA yo give to your employer.

  • Hi Frankie

    I was working in a pre-school when I was diagnosed and quickly realised that it wasn't working. I couldn't get on and off the small chairs or get down to change nappies or cut the fruit and basically, could no longer do the job. In a way, it was a positive thing because RA gave me the kick up the backside that I needed. I went to university, got a degree in social work, got a job and haven't looked back. It's been the making of me. I probably wouldn't have had the confidence to make that step of my own violition.

    Your OT wasn't very helpful because private companies have to make reasonable adjustments for you and cannot discriminate against you in interviews. Also, your job is hardly "cushty" when you're being bullied and discriminated against. I understand if you feel you can't carry on and I'm disgusted that you're being treated this way. Hold your head high. You will find something else. What is it that you do now? Do you have any qualifications?

    Take care and don't give up!

  • I retired after 36 + years in local authority and to be honest the final salary pension is worth sticking for depending on your age and you could eventually get retired on full pension for ill health. I think if your boss is a bully then go to CEO or your personal officer for advice. Your rights with a local authority are very good and I think you should join Unison as you do not have to speak to a local rep. I know from my own experience that local government is usually a great career and well paid so do not jump before your pushed and having RA was no barrier to my progression. So perhaps your feeling a bit down at the moment but you must tackle the bullying and then think about the future as this just might be the life changing event that points you in a new direction.

  • Have been with the local authority as a social care commissioner for 8 years. Have been treated appallingly for that time and constantly made to reapply for my job with constant threat of redundancy. Salary reduced Year on year too.

    My boss has already been given the NRAS booklet. He's refused to acknowledge it. Bullying is with full endorsement / participation of director and assistant director

  • You must talk to the personal officer these are serious issues. Your with a bad authority, most do do re-evaluations I also did several and organised 2 but they can't reduce your salary unless your on performance related pay. This does not make sense look into your contract and join the union or look into changing local authority. I was a senior officer on PO grade and never heard of bullying being ignored ever. I strongly think you need to write down in a diary about the definitive actions and to prove the allegations your making as if you do go down the constructive dismissal route then you'll need good evidence as the bullying seems not to be down to one person but top down. My LA was great and my decision to retire, was mine alone; they were very helpful so yours is a difficult situation.

  • Can you take a step back & hope to get on a drug regime that will stabilise then you could try the career change.

    I had seven really stable years on Methotrexate when I could even play tennis.

    If your miserable boss is being so unreasonable get advice from somewhere like the CAB who provide solicitors who give their time free to help in situations like yours ...they can help bypass the union toadies.

    Good Luck

  • My local authority kindly cut the funding to our CAB and it closed :(

  • I worked in the community with young parents with drug and alcohol issues, as well as mental health problems. It was a very stressful job. When I was made redundant, I breathed a sigh of relief.

    I haven't worked for a few years, I have not been well enough. I do plan to do something part time, but not in social care! I would have liked to have done something physical, and out doors, but that's not practical. I'm still thinking!

  • Sorry to hear about your situation. It's a tough one. I had to switch careers. I was working a very physical job, but was finding it harder and harder to perform the functions as my pain progressed. I didn't know at the time that it was RA that was causing my issues, but I knew I needed a way out.

    For around 4 years I taught myself graphic design in my off-time. While I don't make as much as I use to, I can at least work from home and pay the bills with my freelance gig. Even working from home, it's still very difficult to get anything done because of the low energy and constant pain. Though at least I can take breaks and make my own hours.

    Maybe you can do the same? Teach yourself a new skill or something that will allow you to work from home or in a situation that's more accommodating. I know it's not an optimal or even possible option for many people, but something to consider. Best of luck with whatever patch you end up taking.

  • I was diagnosed in 2009 I was just getting to the peek of my career worked so hard to get were u was. There was no way I was going to give it up. I'm a furniture maker and still am. I've said I would do it was long as I can an and I still am. I've never Spoken to a occupational health person. Dont think I would want to to be honest. You are in the driving seat and only you know if you can do it or not.

    It's a different story if your aready being bullied out of the job they can't do that. Do you have a union?

  • I worked in local authority for 23 years and was there 21 years when I first got diagnosed with RA,OA and Angina and just retired on health grounds in July it was the best thing that happened although I would've liked to have stayed employed it wasn't possible because off my disease and they weren't for giving me alternative work and even threatened me with dismissal saying I wasn't fit for work but I would've taken them all the way to a work tribunal if that happened and the union were a waste off time because they are in the councils pockets regarding management go to cab or NRAS helpline as they will help you

  • So an update on my situation. Today I saw the local authority occupational health consultant. They employ a doctor for serious cases. He examined me and took a history and said "how the hell are you managing to work?" He said you need to understand you have a very serious and at the moment uncontrolled disease. I know you want to work but I won't let you. The more you do the worse you will be in the long run. You need to take some time out to not overdo it whilst you are waiting for a suitable treatment to work. Do not worry about your boss. The letter I am about to write will make it clear this is my clinical decision and not you wanting time off. I would like to sign you off for at least two months (we agreed after I pleaded that he would review in a month) he said I will also be reminding your bosses in my letter that your condition is covered by the disability act and they will need to comply with this.

    Went back to work and told my new boss. He said, okay that's fine. I thought you looked terrible this morning and you need to be off until you are fit enough. He then asked me what my symptoms were. Seems he is worried his partner might have it!

    Bit of a turn around in approach from last week

  • Progress - excellent!

  • Poor you. The stress of a rubbish boss certainly doesn't help your RA and you should never be told you are unemployable thats awful and demoralizing . I am a Nursery Nurse and work with babies up to school age. I have had to say I cant go into the baby room as I cant get off the floor quick enough. The preschoolers think it extremely amusing when I get stuck and make a great fuss about pulling me up. "Bless them" Luckily my employer is usually understanding and only forgets on the odd occasion. I do get the odd eyeball rolling from my colleagues but then on the whole they are in their early twenties ( So I tell them what is in store Ha ha Menopause) My other job which is my main income is teaching First Aid I am really struggling with this and thinking I will have to give it up soon. I am determined to get through 2017 though


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