Work & Wellness Newsletter | Spring 2023

Friday, Jan 6, 2023

With spring in full swing, the change in seasons brings longer days and better weather, making it the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities.

As we transition into warmer days, one of our favorite activities here in the lower mainland is running along the picturesque seawall. Plus, we are excited to share that Pacific Blue Cross recently sponsored the Sun Run and celebrated the arrival of cherry blossom season, adding a touch of natural beauty to our community.

MEMBER UPDATE: As we continue our transition towards a “new normal,” we are returning to the use of our typical application forms. Please discontinue the use of the Confirmation of Illness Form for COVID-19. Thank you to the vast majority of plan sponsors that have already stopped using this COVID-specific form.


Setting up members for return-to-work success

At Work & Wellness, we are grateful for the opportunity to improve the health and well-being of our members at a time they need it the most. Going off work on short- or long-term disability is not easy and returning to work after a significant health issue can feel overwhelming. A team effort to support return-to-work can help improve outcomes for everyone. Here are some key actions that employers can take to help set up members for success:

  1. Know that the supervisor's initial response makes a difference to member's wellbeing and return to work outcomes. Research shows that the initial response of a supervisor when an employee communicates the need for a health-related absence from work is critical. The way a supervisor responds can greatly impact the employee's eagerness to return to work or remain off work, ultimately influencing return-to-work timelines and overall claim costs. During a period of work-disability, employees can feel scared and vulnerable. Setting a tone of care, support, and lack of judgement right from the start goes a long way.
  2. Keep in touch with employees, especially during longer absences. Neglecting absent employees can create a barrier to their timely return-to-work. Keeping an appropriate level of contact and connection between employees and the workplace makes a difference. How connection is maintained during an absence may look different for every person and situation. But the sweet spot is when employees feel genuinely cared for by their team, without feeling pressurized to return before it’s appropriate. Employees can feel disengaged and discouraged if they feel that their absence doesn’t matter and that no one cares that they're off. Keep in touch! 

  3. Think about temporarily modifying work to support recovery. It’s important to inform employees if it's possible to safely modify their work, such as changes to hours, duties, or location. Employees may feel overwhelmed with the idea of returning to their full scope of duties, especially after longer absences. Knowing that temporary modifications are an option can help reduce the initial barrier to return, and lets employees know they will be supported during their transition back. .


Strong start to 2023​

In our previous newsletter, we shared the challenges we faced in 2022, but are in a much stronger position in 2023. We hired additional case managers and support staff, restructured our team to meet your unique needs and are planning new health initiatives for this year.

We are pleased to share that our hard work is paying off. Our service levels are continuing to improve over our book of business, and we have achieved our service level objectives within the first quarter of 2023 for our key metrics including time to decision and turnaround time on new mail.

Operational Metrics Infographic


How virtual care may help with barriers to recovery and return-to-work

A recent CBC article brought to the concerning fact that almost a million B.C. residents  do not have a family doctor, and walk-in clinics and urgent care centers often have long lines. Barriers to accessing care can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of members, especially those who are going through a period of transition with a short- or long-term disability claim. Our primary care shortage can lead to delays in assessments, treatment, specialist referrals, and overall recovery timelines. It may also cause delays in submitting claim forms and receiving timely benefits.

But it is not all bad news. With recent changes to physician compensation, we hope our healthcare system will be better positioned to attract and retain more family physicians. And in the short term, utilization of virtual care services has seen a significant increase, getting a major boost during the pandemic. There are pros and cons to virtual and in-person care, and the suitability of virtual care may vary depending on the condition being treated. But it’s good to know this is an option.

  • One example is TELUS Health My Care, a smart phone app that is free and publicly available.
  • Some groups with the TELUS Health Virtual Care benefit may even have the option for their primary care providers to complete an Attending Physician Statement through a virtual appointment.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about the added benefit of TELUS Health Virtual Care, please contact your Account Executive.


Accessibility and disability inclusion benefits everyone

We take pride in our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), but an award does not mean our work is done. We are dedicated to continuously improving our DE&I understanding and practices, especially when it comes to accessibility and disability inclusion. 

We were proud to sponsor the Rick Hansen Foundation's Accessibility Professional Network (APN) Conference on March 1-2, marking their first in-person conference in 3 years! This year’s theme was “Building Together,” which highlighted the importance of removing physical and attitudinal barriers to participation to create a truly inclusive society. Read the top four takeaways from #APN2023. Here are some facts about disability in Canada:

Accessibility infographic

There is so much opportunity to build more inclusive workplaces that proactively identify and remove or minimize barriers for people with disabilities. Embracing disability inclusion not only helps in attracting and retaining diverse talent but also results in reduced rates and costs associated with disability plans, while promoting safer and more timely return-to-work.

To support our commitment to continuous learning and development, here are some upcoming events and opportunities:


Get to know the Work & Wellness team!

Meet Michael, a disability case management specialist working with Pacific Blue Cross. Michael says the most fulfilling part of his job is helping members during a vulnerable and difficult time in their lives. Outside of the office, he enjoys playing basketball and spending time with his family.


What would you like to hear from us? Share your feedback to with “PBC Newsletter” in the subject so we can cover it in the next edition.