What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Last reviewed on 24/04/2013 13:36

This page gives a definition of Vocational Rehabilitation and links to the Framework document for adult rehabilitation in Scotland.

Quick links:

A definition of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

Although VR grew out of efforts to rehabilitate people with disabilities, today it encompasses the provision of

assistance to a much broader group, including people with physical health conditions and mental health problems.

Early in 2007, the (then) Scottish Executive published Co-ordinated, integrated and fit for purpose: A Delivery Framework for Adult Rehabilitation in Scotland.

The Framework sets out how provisions for VR in Scotland should operate.

It defines VR as:

"a process that enables people with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health conditions to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation." (pg 32)

The focus of VR is to help people retain or regain the ability to participate in work, rather than to treat any illness or injury itself.

However, it is now well recognised that, as well as providing economic benefits, engagement in work or other meaningful and valued activity has health benefits for the individual, and can aid recovery from physical or mental health problems.

View Co-ordinated, integrated and fit for purpose: A Delivery Framework for Adult Rehabilitation in Scotland (external site)


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Numerous examples of definitions are also found in Vocational Rehabilitation, What Works, For Whom and When? Waddle, Burton and Kendall, 2008. visit TSO online bookshop (external site)

I'm Vocational Rehabilitation

The video 'I'm Vocational Rehabilitation', produced by NHS Lothian, explains the different roles involved in vocational rehabilitation - a multidisciplinary approach to helping people return, or stay in work, or even find work for the first time.

You can also download a transcript of this video.

The process of VR

Provision of VR can require input from professionals from many different disciplines, including medical professionals, disability advisers and career counsellors.

According to the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA), the techniques used can include:

  • assessment and appraisal
  • goal setting and intervention planning
  • provision of health advice and promotion, in support of returning to work
  • support for self-management of health conditions
  • career (vocational) counselling
  • individual and group counselling focused on facilitating adjustments to the medical and psychological impact of disability
  • case management, referral, and service co-ordination
  • programme evaluation and research
  • interventions to remove environmental, employment and attitudinal obstacles
  • consultation services among multiple parties and regulatory systems
  • job analysis, job development, and placement services, including assistance with employment and job accommodations
  • the provision of consultation about and access to rehabilitation technology.

I'm Vocational Rehabilitation

(From VRA's Vocational Rehabilitation Standards of Practice, 2007.)


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