Laney Stemp is an excellent example of how employers and providers are able to work in partnership to deliver successful apprenticeship programmes for learners with disabilities. Laney works for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides a wide range of NHS services to people with mental health and learning disability needs in Devon, the wider South West region and nationally.
Laney has cerebral palsy and worked as a support worker at the Trust and was given the opportunity to start The Open University (OU) Higher Apprenticeship in Health (Assistant Practitioner). She is now close to completing the programme and awaiting her End Point Assessment. During the programme, Laney has been promoted to the role of Assistant Practitioner (Mental Health).
“I’ve always worked in healthcare,” explained Laney. “Having cerebral palsy myself, I wanted to help other people, but from a different perspective.
“My condition varies from day-to-day. Some days I wake up and I can’t move and other days I’ll feel differently. There is also a mental health side to living with cerebral palsy.
If I have a day when I wake up in the morning in pain, it isn’t easy to get to a classroom, so The Open University is a good fit for me.Laney Stemp, apprentice at Devon Partnership NHS Trust
“I sometimes find it difficult to talk about how I’m feeling over the phone so I’ve built up a relationship with my Open University tutors where I am able to email and explain how things are going. Face-to-face and telephone contact is also available, but I find email works best for me and that communication has developed over time. It’s really helpful and the support I’ve received from the OU has been fantastic.”
Laney's story is part of The Open University's Access to Apprenticeships report. The report explores access to, and the availability of, apprenticeships for people with declared disabilities. It is based on the results of a major survey of over 700 large and small employers across England.
Unlike classroom-based learning, online learning provided by the OU allows apprentices such as Laney to approach their learning in a more flexible manner around their condition, shift work and workplace needs.
A supportive employer is also vital for apprentices with disabilities. Laney explained: “My manager is really good. There might be days where I’m in work but not physically able to walk as much so I’ll do fewer walk-rounds and more administration tasks. Sometimes I might change a shift if that helps. We adjust things as and when needed.
“I’m coming to the end of the programme now and I’ve handed in my last reflection. Studying with the OU has been a big part of my life and it will seem strange to have finished the programme. Both me and the team will be readjusting to just having a job on the ward helping patients, but its great that the apprenticeship has helped me achieve my goal to be an Assistant Practitioner to help others through my work at the Trust.”
In this video by Devon NHS Partnership Trust, Laney talks about her role.