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To disclose or not to disclose? Workplace experiences of healthcare professionals with specific learning difficulties: transition from education to employment.

Rooney, J and Yeowell, G and Goodwin, PC (2016) To disclose or not to disclose? Workplace experiences of healthcare professionals with specific learning difficulties: transition from education to employment. In: ER-WCPT, 11 November 2016 - 12 November 2016, Liverpool. (In Press)

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Abstract

Relevance: This survey investigated the experiences of nurses, physiotherapists and a variety of allied health professionals (AHP) employed by the National Health Service (NHS) related to specific learning difficulties (SpLD). Understanding issues faced by those w ith a SpLD in the context of the w orkplace and the impact on access to continuing professional development (CPD) has the potential to impact on practice and career progression making it relevant to Congress Theme 2. Purpose: To explore the experiences of nurses and AHPs w ith a SpLD in the NHS w orkplace. Methods/Analysis: This w as the final phase of a 3-phase evaluation. A questionnaire survey w as used to investigate the experiences of nurses and AHPs, w ith a SpLD, w orking in the NHS and their transitions from education to employment. Questions w ere developed from the qualitative findings of phase 2, w hich investigated these issues in physiotherapy. Participants w ere recruited using social media and email via NHS North West, Higher Education Institution (HEI) and other gatekeepers. Data w ere summarised using tables, histograms and pie charts. Open text comments w ere analysed using thematic analysis. Ethical approval w as gained from Manchester Metropolitan University. Results: As a student, more participants disclosed their SpLD to their HEI than did not disclose. How ever, on clinical placement and on application for an NHS post few er disclosed and there w as an even split betw een disclosure/non-disclosure. Once in employment, the trend w as tow ards disclosure. Non-disclosure w as related to fears of discrimination; of negative perceptions that might be held by others and that the use of assistive technology w ould lessen their w orth in the eyes of others. Participants did not report less favourable treatment compared to non-dyslexic peers, nor did they consider that less w as expected from them. Most had not experienced bullying and enjoyed supportive relationships w ith their co-w orkers. How ever, w hilst students in HEIs benefited from academic support on campus, the same adjustment w as not available on placement in NHS Trusts and once they had made transition to the w orkplace. Over a third of respondents felt their SpLD impacted on their ability to engage w ith CPD. Respondents felt that they had to ask for reasonable adjustment rather than have it provided automatically once the need w as recognised. Discussion and conclusions: Data from the survey suggests that disclosure of SpLD to HEI and to employers is likely, w hilst disclosure on placement and on application for employment is less likely. This seems to be related to fears of discrimination and negative perceptions that might be held by others. Non-disclosure is a barrier to the provision of reasonable adjustment. Impact and Implications: Lack of reasonable adjustment related to non-disclosure or failure to provide reasonable adjustment is a potential issue for those w ith SpLD. It may be that career progression/success in funded CPD opportunities is impeded because some w ith SpLD do not have access to reasonable adjustment/assistive technology. Funding Acknowledgement: Health Education North West

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