I’d been working at Capita for five years, as a disability assessor, clinical trainer before progressing to a lead role. I loved my job, especially when teaching people new things and supporting them in challenging times. But in 2020, life suddenly changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we transitioned to home working. Suddenly, I found myself working long hours and reverting to coping strategies that I hadn’t needed since university. Small tasks seemed overwhelming and everything was taking much longer than it should have. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had undiagnosed Dyslexia and ADHD.
Initially, I was unaware that I was neurodivergent, but my formal ADHD and Dyslexia diagnosis helped me make sense of my experience. My manager was fantastic. I was the first person she’d managed with ADHD, and it was all new to me too, so we worked and learned together – a true example of the Capita values (Open, Collaborative, Ingenious & Effective) in action! I’ll be forever grateful for her support; she reminded me that I was still the same Lisa, still valued and that my conditions did not define who I was.
We used Capita’s Reasonable Adjustments Passport to discuss and agree how things could be adapted – we looked at how my working environment could be changed so I could be myself at work. The good thing about the Passport is that it is person-centred and regularly revisited by both parties to see if changes are needed. As it’s not generated by Occupational Health, it gives the manager and employee more autonomy in creating smaller adjustments, and ensures the changes have a substantial impact.
With my ADHD, I can be prone to treating all messages with the same level of urgency and can become distracted. As one of my reasonable adjustments, my manager will mark any correspondence with ‘Urgent/Not urgent,’ which really helps me to stay on track.
I also have a CPD day once a month. This gives me protected time in an otherwise busy schedule, to cover my admin tasks, complete CPD and ‘train’ my Dragon software. This is intuitive software which learns from you and can be a game changer, not only for the those who are neurodiverse but also those with upper limb difficulties or vision loss. I received this through Access to Work, a Government scheme which involves an external assessment and then recommends adjustments in the workplace, very much tailored to you and your role. It can be a long wait, but can provide specialist software, ergonomic equipment and much more - I have digital colour overlays, a Dictaphone, external monitors, and a sit/stand desk.
The most beneficial Access to Work recommendation was six coping strategy training sessions which focussed on all sorts of things, including my home working environment and sleep hygiene. I didn’t realise how much these two things were impacting me as a result of my ADHD. I was also able to share my ways of working with the tutor and together we looked at slight changes we could make, to make my brain work with me, rather than against me.
My manager has been very open and encouraging and is happy for me to join sessions run by the Capita Ability Network (CAN) during work hours, such as Lunch & Learns. I also recently joined the Neurodiversity Chapter Committee as I wanted to help other neurodivergent colleagues. I’ve since worked on several projects, aimed at raising awareness around neurodivergent conditions and the support available. I want to try and end the stigma, particularly around ADHD.
I was even nominated for two awards last year: Q3 Local Heroes Award and Q3 Divisional Hero Award for positively impacting our local communities and environment. It felt amazing to be recognised for the work I’ve been doing to help others. Capita fosters an inclusive culture, where people feel confident to discuss the challenges they are facing, and the organisation is updating resources and running sessions for team managers. The neurodivergent community is growing and our voices are being heard more and more and this can only be a positive thing.