8 October 2019

Health and Social Care students at Birkenhead Sixth Form College are complementing their academic learning with work placement opportunities in a huge range of services and organisations.

Every single student who studies on the Health and Social Care Foundation Programme or the BTEC Diploma has now found a placement through the College’s Health and Social Care department, which boasts a full time, dedicated Placement Officer.

Young people are guided into work experience in the appropriate area for where they see their future lying, with many choosing teaching and nursing pathways – two areas which are struggling regionally and nationally for staffing.

Other areas such as helping those with disabilities or the elderly and working with Mental Health professionals are just some of the variety of options available to students, giving them a helping hand into the health and social care sector which has hundreds of job and career opportunities after completing their studies at the College.

Second year Health & Social Care student Reannon with service users and volunteers at the Wirral Society of the Blind and Partially Sighted

 

Students are given the opportunity to do at least four different placements during their course to help them make up their minds about their chosen area of expertise. The placements are also invaluable when it comes to university, apprenticeship or job applications.

Placement Officer at Birkenhead Sixth Form College, Karyn Jones, explained: “As Placement Officer, I meet with the students at the beginning of the year to chat with them about the opportunities that are available to them within Health and Social Care and we discuss choosing placements within a fantastic variety of local health and social care organisations including Early Years Education, Primary School Education and Special Educational Needs Schools, where students can observe and support pupils with multiple complex learning needs.”

Karyn continued: “We also have placements within some NHS departments and a wide variety of specialised community centres, offering first-hand experiences working alongside Mental Health and Well Being Professionals. Students can also work alongside Health Care Professionals within Elderly Residential Care Homes learning how to support mobility and Dementia. Our placement experiences show the challenges and the fantastic job satisfaction rewards of working in these environments.”

One such placement option is the Wirral Society of the Blind and Partially Sighted (WSBPS). A registered charity, the WSBPS was established in 1989 and is based in Ashville Lodge, across Birkenhead Park from the College.

Second year Health and Social Care student, Reannon, started her placement at WSBPS recently.

Karyn said: “Reannon is supporting the service users this term with a variety of different activities, such as raffles, fish and chip lunches, and art and craft activities. Ashville Lodge also has a yard at the back and the service users and students over the last few years have been helping to create a ‘sensory garden’ with fragrant shrubs and flowers and picturesque Mosaics. The WSBPS supports local community projects and is an important part of the lives of the volunteers and service users, bringing them together to share every day experiences in a friendly social setting.

The sensory garden at WSBPS's Ashville Lodge

 

“Lynne the manager, the service users and the wonderful volunteers at the society have always made our students very welcome and for this we would like to say a great big thank you.”

On her first day, in between dishing out the chips, Reannon: “It’s been great so far. Everyone so friendly and chatty, which is good because I am too!”

A mosaic in the garden

 

The College’s Head of Health and Social Care, Andy Walton, said: “The College and our department is committed to providing these work placements for our young people because the opportunity to gain practical skills and experience at the same time as completing an academic programme is both rare and invaluable.

“The students always gain many practical skills and develop in confidence, along with gaining valuable experience in a range of diverse Health and Social Care settings. They interact with a range of clients and Health and Social Care professionals, and I’ve seen this transform the young people we teach as they develop professional approaches to working.

“Key areas of development are confidence and communication and I have seen these grow week by week. In addition, the students gain satisfaction from working with real clients and get a feeling of making a real difference within the community in which they live. The reward of making a positive difference to the lives of others is a powerful motivation which will stay with our young people as they further develop and take their next steps towards their future.”

Andy concluded: “I’m extremely grateful to our many placement partners who support our work placement programme because it makes a critical difference and supports our students to develop into well-rounded, caring young adults who know the value of treating clients with respect and dignity.”