Handling sickle cell in the workplace

Posted on June 16, 2022

19th June marks World Sickle Cell Day, a day that aims to raise awareness of sickle cell across the world. In this resource, admin & recruitment assistant, Courteney, shares her tips on handling sickle cell in the workplace so you can find the support you need. 

What’s it like having sickle cell 

I have been diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia since birth, it’s classified as a long-term health condition that in essence means your red blood cells are shaped differently. This means they can get ‘stuck’ in blood vessels, which causes a lot of pain and many other complex issues with the body. 

Having sickle cell can be quite unpredictable and it can impact people in a variety of ways. Some of the symptoms that occur for me include anaemia, fatigue, jaundice (in the eyes), and sometimes full-blown sickle cell crisis.  

A sickle cell crisis can appear anywhere in the body from aggravating joint pain to not being able to walk. 

Handling sickle cell in the workplace 

Communication is key when handling sickle cell at work. I’ve been very open with my team about my condition and the needs that come with that and I always ask for help when need be. Having an understanding team and a supportive work environment is how I’m able to work at my best, and when I’m at my worst I know that I have reliable people to lean on. 

Living with the condition for so long, you tend to build up practices and learn the signs of an incoming sickle attack, learn how to pay attention to your body and prepare the best you can. 

The main practices I’ve learnt to implement in the office are: 

  • Keeping blankets in my bag and layering up when cold (even when something small like the aircon is switched on). 
  • Always having a drink on hand to remain hydrated. 
  • Worst case scenario carrying around my medical card to be my voice when I’m unable to speak and to give those around me a clear understanding of what I need. 

For more support and resources, visit the Sickle Cell Society website: https://www.sicklecellsociety.org/  

Did you know: 

Approximately 15,000 people in the UK have sickle cell disorder, and this year Creative Access has teamed up with the Sickle Cell Society to support their latest blood drive campaign, Give Blood Spread Love: https://www.sicklecellsociety.org/blooddonation/  

There is a growing demand for better-matched blood types within the UK to provide life-saving transfusions for people with sickle cell. NHSBT estimate that 40,000 new black-heritage donors are required this year to meet the needs of sickle cell patients across England. Please share this link with friends and family members so we can increase blood donations for people with sickle cell and save lives today: bit.ly/scsgiveblood