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Sterile Services Unit at Scarborough Hospital pilots Project Choice

The Sterile Services Unit (SSU) at Scarborough Hospital is helping local students with a disability or learning disability to gain invaluable work experience through a National Project called Project Choice.

The project, which was first launched at City Hospitals Sunderland, involves a student from a local school or college, who has a learning difficulty or disability, to take part in a six week work placement.

Through Project Choice the Sterile Services Unit has taken on two learners – eighteen year old Aiden Cooper and nineteen year old Sophie Haw, who are both students from the local area.

Karen Porter, Quality Assistant for Sterile Services said: “We are delighted that Sterile Services was given the opportunity to pilot the Project Choices Project for the Trust. It has been a fantastic experience for both the students and the department.

“I have been responsible for co-ordinating the work placements with the Project Choice Team based at City Hospitals Sunderland, who help with risk assessments and mentor training.

“One morning a week, over a six week period, the learners come and do a specified job within our department with help from our staff who act as mentors.

“This experience is invaluable, as it allows the young person to gain knowledge and understanding of what it is like to be a valued member of a team in a work setting.”

Local student Aiden from Scarborough was the Trust’s first Project Choice Learner. He started with the department in November and has just completed his placement.

Aiden chose to work in the Autoclave Area working under the mentorship of Pat Shannon, Autoclave Technician.

As part of his weekly placement, Aiden would assist with tasks such as machine testing helping to ensure that sterilization levels were correct, carrying out final product inspection before scanning to despatch to departments to wards or theatres making sure they were correctly labelled, receiving deliveries, checking stock and using the Tug to deliver sets up to Theatres.

Pat said: “Aiden has been one of the best people that I have trained in the department. He has picked up everything straight away and he will be sorely missed by us all.”

Karen continued: “Aiden quickly became a valued member of the team. He enjoyed working with Pat and interacting with the rest of the team at break times. He has a great sense of humour and had a really good understanding of the important job we do within the department to support staff and patients in our hospitals.”

A second Project Choice student Sophie Caw (19) from Filey is currently carrying out a work placement within the department.

Following the success of the project York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is looking to expand Project Choice into other areas of the Trust.

What is Project Choice?

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust began a small scale work experience project in 2005 with a few young people with learning and physical difficulties. The scheme was developed across the Trust and in 2007 offered all staff the opportunity to take part. In 2010 Project Choice was launched.

Project Choice provides direct, supported training which leads to preparation for jobs in the labour market.

The project aims to raise awareness of the high impact, high quality, high calibre and high performance that a person with a learning disability can bring to the workplace; empowering learners with their rights as individuals in the workplace and providing experience outside of home and school.

02 March 2015

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Photo Caption: The Trust’s first Project Choice students, Aiden Cooper (Age 18) and Sophie Haw (Age 19).

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