Hospital internships as a strong bridge to the open labour market
- Project SEARCH
- KARE - Promoting Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities
- Country of Implementation
- Western Europe
- Start Year
- First published
“The hospital was massive and it took me a while to learn how to get around. But the staff helped me to settle in, and I was able to work in three different departments.” Aoife Cully, Project SEARCH intern
Project SEARCH is run by the KARE organization, which services and supports children and adults in the Kildare and West Wicklow areas of the Republic of Ireland. Part of this programme is the operation of Project SEARCH at Naas General Hospital, offering young people with intellectual disabilities an internship programme in the hospital. Over a nine-month period, the interns take part in three different real job experiences and then seek employment.
People with intellectual disabilities are often excluded from internship programmes, thus lacking the opportunity to get real work experience to prepare them for the open labour market.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
The internship sponsored by KARE and Naas General Hospital allows the participants to rotate through various departments, such as radiology, medical records, cardiology, nurse practice development, clinical engineering, and laboratory attendant. In this way, they learn about administration, patient care, customer interaction, catering, housekeeping, and general communication skills. Two Project SEARCH staff members are based permanently in the hospital to sustain the interns through one-on-one job coaching. After this initial period, most departments nominate a staff person who will liaise with the Project SEARCH staff to continue training and supporting the interns. Additionally, the interns take part in group learning activities where they provide support for one another.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The project is support by the Irish Health Service and KARE’s base funding, and it operating license was purchased through a Genio grant for €25,000. The programme was also a finalist for the 2015 Irish Healthcare Awards. The Minister for Disabilities has acknowledged the project, as have representatives from Ireland’s National Disability Authority. KARE plans to develop a similar programme for people with intellectual disabilities from an older age group.
THE STORY OF AOIFE CULLY, SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE
“Now I work at the deli in Eurospar, stocking all the shelves.”
My name is Aoife Cully and I live in the village of Clonbollogue in County Offaly with my mum and dad. I am 23 years old. Three years ago I worked out my personal plan with Jo, my keyworker, and I told everybody that I wanted to get a job. I never had a job before and I was very unsure about what I wanted to do. My mum had heard about Project SEARCH at Naas General Hospital and she thought I might get experience there of what it is like to work. I had to learn to get the bus to Naas to go the hospital. I had never used the bus before, and mum and I were nervous about that, but I got very good at it and now I can use the bus by myself. The hospital was massive and it took me a while to learn how to get around. Wendy and Trish, who volunteer with Project SEARCH, helped me settle in, and I worked in three different departments: in the wards, in the gift shop and the public coffee shop, and in the catering department. During this time I composed my CV and I also did some practice interviews. I told Wendy and Trish that I really wanted to work in a supermarket, and together with my Dad they helped me get a job in Eurospar in Portarlington. I work in the deli department, and I also work with the girls stocking all the shelves. I love my job as I get to meet new people and I can buy new things from the money I earn.