Background Students with Learning Disabilities (LD) are encouraged to continue in education or training to the age of 25 (Department for Education, 2016). Moving from education into work requires a supportive and structured approach. An innovative programme was established by the 19+college to secure supported work placements for this cohort of students. When approached the hospice was initially cautious, however, we were encouraged by the level of support on offer.
Aim To support adults with learning disabilities towards independent employment.
Method Job Coaches from the college accompanied each student with LD, ensuring they understood instructions and carried out tasks to a good standard. Placements were sought where routine tasks could be allocated for the student to learn and master and were monitored by the college. Each placement was offered initially for one academic year. Job Coaches were to pull back and observe from a distance encouraging and supporting the student to undertake tasks independently when ready. When agreed, the student would begin to attend on their own for part or a full day, working towards independence.
Results Two students attended placements all year; one in retail and he has been working towards independence; another one in the gardening and catering teams and he has been applying for jobs in catering as a result of his experience. Student quote ‘I really enjoy working in the kitchen and have been cutting up vegetables and making cakes. The bit I enjoy most though is how we all help each other in the kitchen’. Staff have reported they were happy with the job coach’s support which meant their own workload did not increase as a result of the placement.
Conclusion Students with LD can successfully integrate into work placements with the right level of support. Further placements are being considered in the housekeeping and laundry teams.
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