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Posted on 24th April 2017

Project SEARCH at Musgrove Park Hospital

Helping students with learning disabilities find jobs

What is Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a one year course for young people with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) in their final year of education and who are motivated to work. It enables them to spend one academic year in the workplace with an employer, this is called an internship. This provides them with the skills, experience, knowledge and confidence to move into the world of employment.

Project SEARCH is a programme which was developed in Cincinnati, USA, at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital by Erin Riehle in 1996. Today the program has been successful across Canada, Australia, Europe, England and Scotland.

Musgrove Park Hospital is the second employer in Somerset to work with Project SEARCH interns, in partnership with Bridgwater and Taunton College (the training provider) and Somerset County Council (who provide job coaches via Discovery).

A team of dedicated job coaches, tutor, job developers and mentors, work at the hospital to support the young interns to succeed and prepare for working life.  It is a full time programme; Monday to Friday 08.50 – 15.30 and each intern has the opportunity to experience working in 3 different departments in the hospital. The programme starts with a full hospital induction and interns work towards an industry recognised Care Certificate whilst continuing to improve their skills in Maths and English.

Project SEARCH is about helping people with learning disabilities to gain paid employment (at minimum wage or above).  In 2013 there were 110 Project SEARCH sites which achieved employment for 60% – 100% of the interns who took part in the programme.

Who is involved in Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a partnership between Musgrove Park Hospital, Somerset College and Somerset County Council.  The goal is to provide on-site internship experiences, acquire necessary skills for young adults with learning disabilities leading to competitive employment.   • Musgrove Park Hospital: Provides an on-site classroom and a variety of internships that teach skills related to that business or organisation.  • Bridgwater & Taunton College: Provides an instructor, curriculum and student interns from the local area.  • Discovery (funded by Somerset County Council): Provides job coaching and job development for interns at the host business and in their initial job.  • Department of Work and Pensions: Provides Access to Work funding for job coaching and other follow on supports.

What do interns do?

During the year interns complete three, ten week internships in different departments around Musgrove Park Hospital, gaining skills essential for the workplace and becoming a valuable part of the team. They spend 20 hours per week with their departments, as well as attending classes, where they achieve qualifications and develop other vital skills.  Interns learn skills such as CV writing, interview techniques and how to complete application forms.  At the end of each day, interns meet to discuss their working day and write their work diaries.

Some of the tasks for Project SEARCH interns could include; packing equipment, moving items around the hospital (portering), administration support, filing, organising and delivering post, sorting x-ray reports, helping customers, helping with stock taking and many others……..

What interns have said about Project SEARCH……

“I have really enjoyed my second internship. I have gained more confidence by asking people for help if I need to and talking to people within the team. I also enjoyed doing a presentation to the other lecturers and staff from the local schools. I was a bit nervous at first, but once I got going, I felt like I had achieved my personal goal that I’ve had for ages!”  Ollie, Project SEARCH Intern

“I have enjoyed being on Project SEARCH because it’s made me feel confident. It will hopefully help me to get a job in the future”.  Michelle, Project SEARCH Intern

What families of the interns have said…..

Michelle’s family said: “Project SEARCH has been of tremendous benefit to Michelle in helping her develop her self-confidence and social interaction skills, giving her a degree of independence, as well as providing her with experience of a real working environment.”

What staff working with Interns have said…..

Karen Carter, Medical Records and Information Governance Manager said: “Ben’s first internship in the Medical Records Library consisted of pulling, prepping, boxing and tracing records ready for scanning.  Ben really got to grips with these tasks and within two weeks we were trebling the quantity of boxes we were sending out. He has been a real asset to the department and we are looking forward to him returning”.

How to do I apply for an internship with Project SEARCH?

There will be an open evening to be held on Thursday 18 May 2016 from 6 – 8pm at Musgrove Park Academy, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, for anyone interested in finding out more about Project SEARCH.  You will also be able to complete an application form on the evening.  Families and friends are also very welcome.  If your application is accepted successful you will be asked to attend an assessment day at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, which will also include an interview.

Successful candidates will be receiving a letter telling them they have been successful and will be asked to start their internships in September 2017.  For further information about Project Search and this years internships please contact:

Jackie Ridgeway Supported Internship Co-ordinator Bridgwater & Taunton College, Wellington Road, Taunton, TA1 5AX Telephone: 01823 366 384 or 07917 208 894 Email: RidgewayJ@somerset.ac.uk