Dounia remembers 18 December 2017 as if it were yesterday: “Something happened to me literally overnight. I felt that my body wasn’t working properly anymore and I was experiencing chest pain.” She had to go through a whole number of tests before receiving a diagnosis: her physical symptoms were a reaction sparked by post-traumatic, stress-induced depression.
When it all became too much
Dounia put herself under huge pressure for years on end: “I always gave my all, both at work and in my personal life.” She tried to please everyone in all areas of her life, forgetting herself in the process. The period following her episode, in which she lost her job, had to contact the employment office and underwent various forms of treatment, was a difficult time for both Dounia and her family.
In mid-2018, Dounia was introduced to her IV coach, who took a holistic look at her situation: while she was keen to work, she was, at that time, only classed as partially able to do so due to her state of health. “I’m still in touch with my coach today and the support she provides me with is incredible.” Dounia’s coach put her in touch with Baloise and introduced her to the IV training programme: “It’s the best thing that could ever happen to me!” Dounia is convinced.
Everyone knew that I had been referred by the DI office and came with a bit of baggage. At the same time, it was made clear from the word go that it wasn’t a problem and that I would be accepted as an individual, just the way I am.Dounia, who is completing the IV programme
A mixture of training sessions and post-traumatic therapy
Jaqueline Schreiber, Head of Health Management at Baloise, invited Dounia to an informal meeting. “We realised at the meeting that Dounia was the perfect candidate for our programme and that we were also able to create this sort of position in our Accident department.” Jaqueline and Dounia’s mentor Christoph worked with Dounia to come up with a special programme, initially focusing on training sessions and integration into the team. As well as starting work in a 40 per cent part-time position, Dounia also attended post-traumatic therapy. “Some days, you’re completely wiped out and mentally absent after a session of therapy, and sometimes you’re absolutely fine. Christoph always took this instability into account, allowing us to master my onboarding period together. I couldn’t have got this far without him,” explains Dounia.
A total of 58 IV training programmes have been completed at the Head Office in Basel since the scheme was launched back in 2011. This has created a large number of temporary positions to tide us over until we were able to recruit a permanent staff member externally and, something that we are particularly happy about, has also led to eight people being employed by us permanently.Jaqueline Schreiber, Head of Health Management at Baloise
It can happen to anyone
Dounia now has a 60 per cent position. “Although I’m working just as many hours as I did before my breakdown, I’ve moved down a gear in every respect: Health is the most important thing and the world won’t stop spinning just because I say ‘no’ to something.”
In the past, Dounia wanted to solve all of her problems herself. “That was something I saw as a strength, and I always thought: you’ll find your own way out of the woods. Hardly anyone knew that I was sick.” Today, Dounia sees the ability to accept help as a strength. “It takes a lot of courage to accept help. Nowadays, I have absolutely no problem telling people that I’m completing the IV training programme.” Dounia is a strong woman who is proud to tell her story and wants to help put an end to the prejudice surrounding psychological illness. “It can happen to anyone, completely out of the blue. From an employer’s perspective, supporting employees who aren’t doing as well is an approach that makes sense. Nobody chooses to be ill. This is exactly the approach taken by Baloise’s Corporate Health Management and it’s something I’m very grateful for.” Dounia’s mentor Christoph also sees the entire training session as a success: “I see Dounia as an independent and strong-willed lady who learns quickly and has a very positive attitude – a real fighter! For me personally, it’s a joy working with her and being able to use this programme to help her find her way back into working life.”
Dounia’s training will last until the end of March 2021: “Regardless of what happens afterwards, it’s thanks to the IV training programme that I feel ready to return to work again.”
Federal Disability Insurance (IV) is a compulsory component of the Swiss system of social insurance and aims to secure an insured person’s livelihood through occupational rehabilitation measures and/or cash benefits if he/she becomes incapacitated for work or disabled. It is open to insured persons who are unable to work, either in full or in part, due to a health impairment. The Federal Disability Insurance Office defines the degree of disability, helps individuals to integrate into the job market and determines the amount of indemnity that the insured person is entitled to on the basis of his/her invalidity or so-called “helplessness”. The DI offices of the cantons are responsible for answering any specific questions.
In general, reintegration positions are created outside of the general staffing plan. The positions are generally created for six months, depending on the individual’s needs and abilities in terms of working hours, complexity, onboarding and performance requirements. “One key aspect when it comes to filling positions is that the team is voluntarily willing to help and support the person concerned, and that we can ensure close collaboration between the employer, the responsible DI office and the therapist and/or assigned coach,” explains Jaqueline Schreiber.
Registration as part of the IV scheme relies on companies actually offering these positions. Baloise made a decision in 2011 to make an active contribution to the success of the sixth IV review by helping to reintegrate people who are partially able to work. This allows us to do our bit to help ensure that people in our society no longer rely on the disability pension in the long run and find their way back into the working world.