Purpose of the Service
To assess the functional abilities and limitations of an individual to inform the return to work process
What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?
This is a systematic method of determining an individual’s ability to perform purposeful and meaningful tasks in a safe and dependable manner. It involves an in-depth customised evaluation that combines both objective measures, observation and professional clinical judgement in order to determine a client's current capacities. Consideration is given to the effort provided, the reliability of symptom reporting, as well as physical tolerances, e.g. postural tolerances, strength, endurance, speed and flexibility and psycho-social limitations. It determines a person's current functional capacity and ability for certain work tasks or for a particular job. The assessor uses a combination of both standardised and non-standardised assessment tools to evaluate the worker's abilities and limitations against the job demands and specific identified work related criteria.
Where the evaluation is for a specific role the assessment describes the nature of the role and involves an analysis of the job demands which may be carried out as a separate assessment. The FCE objectively measures postural tolerance and mobility and commonly will include testing of tasks such as dynamic strength (for example, floor-to-waist lifting or unilateral carrying); postural tolerance (for example, standing tolerance or reclining reach); mobility (for example, steps or ladder climbing; and an “other” category (for example, hand dexterity or pinch grip). Cognitive and social demands may also be assessed if relevant.
A report of the findings with recommendations is provided which can be used to determine an individual's ability to return to their job or alternative role and to facilitate case resolution by informing the future management and appropriate intervention strategies. The results of the FCE can be used to set parameters for vocational rehabilitation and a return to work programme.
Who is this suitable for?
This type of assessment is helpful for people with an injury or health condition when their current functioning and tolerances in relation to their job role are unknown. Where the individual does not have a job to return to an FCE can be used to identify suitable employment by providing information about their physical abilities and limitations. It may be combined with a vocational assessment to identify interests, aptitudes, preferences and skills.