East Sussex


29 / 9 / 2015 5.04pm

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has partnered with Sussex Downs College Eastbourne, the local authority, local supported employment services and Project SEARCH. The partnership offers people with learning disabilities three, ten week rotations. The objective of these rotations is to: 

  • achieve paid employment;
  • support interns to develop lifelong employability skills; and
  • raise the aspirations of interns, their families, employers and our local community by demonstrating the contribution our interns make to their place of work. 
The Trust has hired three people with learning disabilities following their internship. The delivery model combines best practice from classroom based teaching and workplace learning which is delivered by the Programme Co-ordinator. The internship experience is supported by Job Coaches and NHS Trust Department Mentors. A Job Developer is commissioned by the college to a supported employment agency to ensure best use of expertise in matching the interns with local employers to maximise job outcomes.

There is a large variety of rotations available through the following departments: Decontamination, Laundry, Human Resources, Pathology, Housekeeping, Stores, Post, Clinical Administration, Infection Control, Health Records, Dementia Care, PALS, Occupational Therapy, Human Resources, Pharmacy, Main Stores, Post, and Catering.

The Trust has seen many immediate benefits of the programme including:   
  • an increase in professional development across the hospital by encouraging staff to become mentors and learn from the interns;
  • an increase in collaborative and creative working, and sharing ideas across the organisation;
  • improvement in accessible recruitment practices and reasonable adjustments; and
  • enhancement in the Trust’s and college’s profile 
"It will help to change the way people think, as it will challenge ideas about what people with a learning disability can do" Chief Executive, local NHS Trust”.

How they do it?
  • Collaboration with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s partners: Sussex downs College Eastbourne, the local authority, local supported empowerment services and Project SEARCH. 
  • Finding departments within the organisation who would like to work with people with learning disabilities as a starting point. 
  • The model combines best practice from classroom based teaching and workplace learning One year internship model, where applicants work in three different departments.
  • The internship partnership will provide on-going support to all their young people and employer throughout their time on placement and when in a paid job. 
  • Job coaches cover student’s needs, which is particularly important when changing placements and at the beginning of each cycle.
  • Interns return to an on-site classroom called the base room each morning to be prepared for the working day and again at the end of the day to reflect and evaluate their experiences. 
  • At the base room the following is covered: punctuality, attendance, personal hygiene, Personal Protective Equipment, ensuring that the interns have the right equipment (ID badge, personal belongings) needed for work; health and safety as well as providing the opportunity to provide feedback. 
  • A job coach accompanies interns on each rotation ensuring they feel comfortable with their role and confident enough to be left independently. 
  • Visible senior leadership with the Trust CEP and board fully supporting the programme. 
  • The Trust formed a steering group with all partners and parents of the interns to lead the project. 
  • The support package is embedded into the structure of the day and is shared and communicated amongst all staff in contact with the interns.
Lessons for other NHS organisations
  • Staggered starts in hospital departments.
  • Interns are more capable to work than anticipated due to assessment of capabilities in an academic classroom setting. For the second rotation we sped up the staggered starts in departments with reduced 1 to 1 coaching contact.
  • Sharing more information with mentors in hospital departments:
  • Introduced learner profile information including strategies to support learning needs in work placement.
  • Steering group stakeholder responsibilities be clear from the start to achieve key objectives.
  • The funding methodology is key to the programme and contributor to its sustainability; it’s vital that this is transparent and shared with any organisations who wish to pursue this as a model.
  • There are several elements which together enable the intern to access the programme full-time for over 1000 guided learning hours per academic year. These include: 
  • EFA Study Programme Funding and Element; and
  • 1, 2 and possibly 3 of High Needs Funding. 
  • Highly supportive programme consisting of 4 dedicated members of staff who are committed to delivering the model.

Latest Tweets

Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Sounds great, what next?

Register Now

Not now, I will register later

Log In