Monthly Archives: June 2014

Ben Braud – Work experience at the Institute of Mental Health: Studying and researching Tourette Syndrome

17 year-old Benjamin Braud has Tourette Syndrome (known as ‘tics’ or ‘TS’). He chose to spend a week long work experience placement at the University of Nottingham, specifically with researchers from the division of Psychology, based at the Institute of Mental Health. After he’d finished his experience we asked him how he got on…

How did you come to have your work experience at the University of Nottingham?

I came to the University of Nottingham because I wanted to see the variety of choices and skills they offered. In fact, when I contacted the research team (who I already knew because I’d volunteered to help them with Tourette Syndrome research in the past) they allowed me to spend a week with them, which I’m grateful for.

Were you already involved in research at the University of Nottingham?

Yes, I’ve done many exercises and relaxations on TS which were part of research studies that students were doing. Also, I’ve done a few MRI scans which enabled the researches to have a closer and detailed look at my brain.

Were you in a particular team or department?

I was involved in the department of Psychology where I helped Jane Fowlie, Dr Ruth Wadman, Amelia Draper and research students. I also went to the Institute of Mental Health, where the MRI scans were being done. It was extremely interesting and fascinating to take part in the research. I would be happy to do it again.

Why did you choose this work experience placement?

Since I have been helping the research teams with their study into TS, I wanted to see the other sides of their job, which in fact were quite interesting. It was great to find out about the other studies and opportunities they are involved in.

What did you hope to achieve from this work experience placement?

This work experience has given me a variety of skills. It has been extraordinary, fun and most all fascinating. I’d hoped to gain more knowledge to allow me to have a clearer idea of how to get on the path to my future career – which I did.

Can you give us an idea of the kind of things you did – any duties or things you were asked to do?

The activities I participated in were always interesting! I did research activities (games/simulations), learnt about new research studies, and I even learnt about Psychopaths! I also learnt about how research is conducted and learnt more detail on how Tourette Syndrome occurs with the human brain with Professor Georgina Jackson and Dr Elena Nixon. However, there is so much to talk about as it has been a great journey!

What do you feel you gained from the experience?

This experience has given me skills which I can develop, mainly confidence and communication skills because meeting new people has boosted my confidence. Plus everyone was friendly – the environment was great! There are plenty more skills which I have developed but the main one would be new knowledge about the outside world, which has enabled me to be more confident about myself.

Would you have any advice for anyone about to go on work experience?

My first thoughts were that they would treat me like a lab rat, however; I was wrong because the people have been kind, honest and friendly, which was great. The only advice I would give is just be yourself and look smart on your first day as it will give the people a good impression about you and what you are like. Also, don’t be afraid to ask any questions – I learnt a lot.

What are your future career plans/goals?

Before I went to work experience I wanted to go to University. But now I feel like I want to do an apprenticeship. Even though the University of Nottingham offers science based studies, I would prefer to do an apprenticeship in a lab in the same type of research, but maybe in a different disorder. Perhaps help with TS. But, nevertheless, this work experience has given me a lot of options and choices.

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Debbie Butler – Working with the CQC

A friend of mine recently made me smile, as we were discussing recent pieces of work I have done for the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  Her comment was ‘Blimey you’ve gone over to the dark side’.  This is the reputation the CQC has; however, although I have only been on three inspections I have learnt so much. My role has been to chat to service users and ask how they feel they have been treated.  I don’t just ask the questions about this, and I use the following as prompts: is the service ‘safe, well led, caring, effective and responsive’.  It’s a skill that I am still mastering to use the way people feel about the care below.

It has certainly been an eye opener. As a patient of many areas of health in Nottingham how lucky I feel my treatment has in the most part been very good. A hospital I went to had buildings that looked like Anderson shelters. The recovery room at the hospital was at the top of a steep corridor, so there was a pulley system almost like a ski lift to take the trolleys up.

I have spoken to many patients who have had many different health issues and feelings. The one I remember more than anything was an elderly lady who was wheelchair bound. She was in a nursing home in Nottinghamshire. She was in the lounge watching the French open and had an incredible smile on her face so I couldn’t resist talking to her. It turned out she had played tennis nationally. Previously I had found older people difficult to relate to, but this lady was so happy talking about tennis. I don’t want to make it look easy to go into a service, and sometimes inspections can make it difficult for staff.  As many of you will have seen on the television about mistreatment of patients, it’s the CQC’s role to make sure this doesn’t happen. Some of the inspections have discovered bad practice; this is often from learnt behaviour by new staff coming in and being incorrectly trained.

So if you hear that the CQC is coming please don’t look at them as the dark side, I haven’t seen Darth Vader yet, they are there to help, and stop bad practice.  Services that have been inspected will be able to blow away the dark side and help bring about a lighter side for those unfortunately are being treated in many ways by the NHS.

I realise this isn’t going to happen overnight but we need to keep walking towards the light and be happy that the dark side is very slowly becoming that bit lighter.

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