I’m Jenny Pople and I’m a Research Scientist at Unilever R&D near Bedford, UK. I had my first CSF leak in 2012 and I’m currently managing my third leak which hasn’t responded well to blood patching. I’m a functional leaker so manage reasonably well in the mornings but struggle significantly with symptoms later in the day. My role is mainly office-based with a short commute time but to manage my symptoms I work at home in the late afternoons where I can lay flat and use a laptop stand. My employer agreed in 2017 I had a long-term disability and we would work together to make reasonable adjustments to the office to accommodate me.

To fund the adjustments, I applied for a DWP access to work grant. This is open to anyone with a disability in work or seeking work and you don’t need to be in receipt of any disability linked benefits to apply. The application process was straightforward. An accessor then came to my place of work to discuss my condition and what physical adjustments could work. I really needed some equipment to enable me to work laying flat for at least part of the day. The DWP initially offered some basic equipment which my employer did not feel was appropriate or adequate. Our occupational health department identified another more suitable option and appealed to the DWP to fund this, which was successful.

They identified the zero-gravity workstation and recliner chair supplied in the UK by a company called back2. The workstation has a multi-adjustable monitor holder, an adjustable tray for keyboard/mouse and a small side table to hold a laptop & drink. https://www.back2.co.uk/zero-gravity-workstation.html. The keyboard tray is on hydraulics and lifts up and down using touch button. We have teamed this with the zero gravity recliner chair https://www.back2.co.uk/backsaver-mb-2020-zero-gravity-recliner-chair.html. This is a leather office chair which adjusts back a long way but not quite completely horizontal. I tested the chair in their London showroom before purchase, but the workstation is not on show. The workstation can be used with a flat bed or couch if needed. I had to be very patient as the workstation was shipped from the USA and took four months to arrive and we had to sort out a monitor, handle and some very long cables. My employer is very safety conscious, so we are currently doing a risk assessment and making sure it’s as easy and safe as possible for me to use. I’m already the envy of the office and should be using the workstation in the next week or so. I’m hoping to lay flat for part of the day and upright at my normal desk / in meetings the rest of the time as this combination is how I seem to manage my symptoms best.

If anyone has any questions, would like to see more photos or would like to see the workstation in person please drop me an email and I’d be happy to help. jennypople@btinternet.com.

Thank you, Jenny for writing this article for the newsletter and for sharing such helpful information.

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