Trust offers work experience to adults with learning disabilities

Young adults with learning disabilities are to gain valuable work experience at the Trust through a supported training programme called ‘Project SEARCH’. 

The 12 students aged 18-24 will begin work experience at Charing Cross Hospital on 5 September. The recruits, from the College of North West London and Westminster College, were chosen following a rigorous selection process. They will work in different departments in the hospital, such as theatres, 9 North West and 6 North wards, the neuroscience management office and six different placements with our facilities provider, Sodexo. They will rotate placements every three months in order to gain the maximum amount of experience during their time at the Trust.

The students are matched to their placements based upon their skills, abilities and interests. They are supported by a ‘job coach’ and their tutor to learn the skills required in each placement until they can perform the tasks independently. They will receive additional support from their mentors who work alongside them in each department.

A typical day on the programme starts with a one hour teaching session followed by a five hour work placement. The students finish the day with a 30 minute debriefing session to review and reflect on what they have learned over the day and to resolve any issues or concerns they may have. The goal for each student is full time employment within the NHS or the community using the skills they have acquired through Project SEARCH.

Currently working at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust as a technician at the Endoscopy Re-processing Unit (ERU) is Ryan Jenman. Ryan previously took part in Project SEARCH at Whipps Cross Hospital from September 2013 to July 2014. Through the initiative he managed to develop his work place skills and go onto get a full time paid job.

Ryan Jenman (pictured), said:

“I was only 16 when I started Project SEARCH and it has helped me a huge amount with my personal development. Through the project I managed to get a great deal of support and training in the work place, which helped to boost my self-confidence. It ultimately helped me to get a full time paid job as a technician at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“I hope the new trainees who are about to start Project SEARCH at Charing Cross Hospital will really embrace the process like I did and get the best out of the programme. I have found that it is a huge opportunity to get some invaluable work place experience and increase your chances of getting a job at the end of it.”

Camila Mujica, Work Experience Project Manager at the Trust, said:

“I am very pleased that we are able to offer work experience through Project SEARCH to these twelve young adults. I wish them every success during their time at the Trust, where they will be given full support in their placements and learn more about being a part of the working environment. This is a very important programme because it shows that people with learning disabilities are as productive, highly skilled and reliable as any other member of staff.”

Notes to editors

Project SEARCH is an international training programme aimed at supporting young adults with learning difficulties into paid employment. The project has its origins in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio. Currently only seven per cent of people with learning disabilities are employed, the aim of the project is to get 70 per cent employed. The initiative provides real life work experience combined with training in employable and independent living skills, as well as formulating a CV, to help young people with learning disabilities to make successful transitions from school to productive adult life.