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Trust shortlisted for Learning Disabilities Initiative of the Year

16 May 2019

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has shortlisted Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for a Learning Disabilities Initiative of the Year Award, as part of the publication’s annual Patient Safety Awards.

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has shortlisted Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for a Learning Disabilities Initiative of the Year Award, as part of the publication’s annual Patient Safety Awards. The Trust has been nominated for Project SEARCH, a partnership between the Trust, Queensmill School, the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Action on Disability. 

Based at our West Middlesex University Hospital site, Project SEARCH offers young people with autism and/or learning disabilities, an academic year long internship, rotating between three departments to build students’ skills and develop their career paths. Each student works with a team that includes family members, job coaches and employment coordinators to create their employment goals. Together they develop the support the student needs for their successful transition from education to the workplace. 

To meet the award criteria, nominees needed to demonstrate: 

  • increased safety and reliability of care for those with learning disabilities 
  • ambition in delivering targets set for improvements in the safe care of patients 
  • achievements as a direct result of the initiative, evidenced by quantitative data 
  • shared learning and best practice across the sector 
  • value to staff, patients and the organisation 
  • engagement with key stakeholders including patient and care consultation

Kathryn Mangold (Lead Nurse for Learning Disabilities and Transition at the Trust) said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted for this award. We are really proud of all the interns who have participated in the programme. Working across the hospital, they have demonstrated just how much can be achieved with the right support. They are a huge talent pool which hasn’t been tapped into before. By starting a Project SEARCH programme, we have been able to give young people with a disability the chance at an internship which they may have otherwise found difficult to access due to stricter acceptance criteria.”

Lindsay Thompson (Job Coach for Project SEARCH), who has followed the students from their time at Queensmill School, said: “It is really positive to see our students, whom I have known for years, really adapt to a mainstream environment. We are all adapting from a specialist school environment to a very different, hospital setting and the support we have had from staff has been really helpful. It has not only helped our students adapt and prepare for adulthood, but has also helped us to raise the profile of young people living with learning disabilities.”  

Project SEARCH began in September 2018 at West Middlesex University Hospital with eight interns and four teachers/coaches. The HSJ will announce the winners on 2 July 2019.

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