School of Health & Society 06.08.22

Graduation celebrations for lip reading student after placements cancelled during pandemic

Learning Disability Nursing and Social Work (Integrated Practice) graduate Kevin has worked in social care from the age of 17 and knew it was the career for him, but the pandemic made him doubt if he would ever be able to complete his studies.

“Having supported people with mental health needs and learning disabilities for over 20 years, I felt it was time to attain a professional qualification. I wanted to continue my development and learn further skills to continue to support others. 

“Salford offers a dual qualification course of learning disabilities and social work; I was looking into both of these career paths, and fortunately I found that I could do both!”

Initially, Kevin says he really enjoyed the course. “Whilst it was challenging at times, I found the university to be very supportive and encouraging. Being on placements was what I enjoyed the most. Doing both a social work and nursing degree, I was given the opportunity to attend a wide range of placements with different services and client groups which has been fantastic.”

However, when Covid-19 disrupted services, Kevin found that the placements which he had previously enjoyed so much were suddenly closed off to him.

Kevin explained: “I am profoundly deaf and communicate mostly with lip reading. During the pandemic the majority of placements understandably had strict infection control rules. However, the use of masks meant that communication was problematic and on my last placement I was actually unable to attend as there was no clinically safe see-through masks available.

“My placement was delayed for months as a result, and I really struggled to cope. There was no solution offered which left me wondering if I was ever going to be able to get onto placement and finish my course. Throughout the years I have unfortunately gotten used to being denied opportunities due to my disability but this time it really stung. 

“With the support and encouragement of my tutors and the university, we managed to challenge the situation and advocate the use of a transcription app, which finally enabled me to get out into practice. I finished my course with a first, which was amazing!”

Kevin says that before starting his studies he never thought of himself as being academic and didn’t have much confidence in his own abilities.

“My confidence was so low when it came to assignments and assessments. I would often work myself up and completely stress about what to write and waiting for results. Having attained a 1st class degree it is clear that I can do the work, I just needed to have more faith in myself.

Since graduating, Kevin has secured a job as a community learning disability nurse and says he hopes to advance into possible senior roles within the industry in future. 

“I think the dual aspect of social work and learning disability nursing is a real plus on my CV and demonstrates a wide range of academic and practical experience. Being able to work on a variety of placements helped to make connections and offers a genuine insight into the job, which is a real positive when it comes to choosing what area you want to end up working in.”