Aaron's story - East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

Jigsaw puzzle piece

16 / 6 / 2015 8.10am

Bright Futures partnership with East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) and East Kent Support Employment.

'As part of the programme, each individual completes three, ten week rotations where they can be placed in different teams to discover which roles they are best suited for.'

Bright Futures is a partnership with East Kent College, and Kent Supported Employment to offer internships to people with learning disabilities. 

Aaron joined the trust as an intern on the Bright Futures programme at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in 2010, where he did three ten week placements over the space of an academic year. He worked as a healthcare ssistant, a porter and was involved in administrative tasks in pathology.

Each day Aaron would spend time in the classroom with East Kent College tutors, followed by five hours in his work placement, at the end of the day he and his colleagues would reconvene in the classroom to reflect in what they had learnt. Aaron explained that he enjoyed the practical work and being on his feet, and enjoyed achieving the trust of his mentors.  

According to Aaron the learning has been a two way process, that EKHUFT have learnt that disability does not just mean people who have a physical impairment, but people who have autistic spectrum conditions like him. Through simplifying communication and breaking down the tasks trust staff was able to encourage Aaron and develop his skills, enabling him to manage tasks independently. 

After graduation, Aaron achieved a six month contract in recruitment, and following this obtained a permanent 32 hour a week position as a case notes collection clerk with clinical coding. Aaron clearly enjoys this current role which he has held for over two years, he expressed surprise on hearing that this had previously been a position of high staff turnover, he is determined to improve his skills and is looking forward to a long career in the NHS. 

How we did it

  • Bright Futures emerged from the Valuing Employment Now programme in 2009. The lead for supported employment in Kent coordinated a meeting of the three main partners - Kent Supported Employment, EKHUFT and East Kent College (Thanet College as was). We were awarded a Project Search licence which offered us a model to follow, and some pre-requisites for each partner to be able to provide. EKHUFT had to find a classroom on sight and arrange the intern placements. The partnership started with ten interns, as such EKHUFT invested in a project manager who could develop intern placements across QEQM hospital. 
  • The partnership is operationally led by East Kent College in collaboration with Kent Supported Employment. The day is organised into three parts: 
    • classroom teaching and activities 
    • work placement for four hours 
    • returning to the classroom to reflect on what has been learnt and to debrief. 
  • The operational staff have honorary contracts with EKHUFT and are embedded with QEQM, they engage with established placements and organise new ones. The Bright Futures Steering Group is led by Kent Supported Employment, with interested parties from each partner organisation. Within EKHUFT, Bright Futures is a HR led project. 
  • At the turn of the calendar year, the operational team begin to support interns with job hunting, enabling them to express their competitive marketable skills in their job applications. These applications sometimes result in employment within EKHUFT, while some will achieve employment outside of the hospital. Once in employment Kent Supported Employment can offer two years of follow on support, facilitating the relationship between employer and employee.

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