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WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme

The WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme is a transition programme for adults with intellectual disabilities to gain employability experience in order to access paid employment in the open labour market. After a very successful first year, 11 trainees graduated having completed their 11 month internship.

Meeting the trainees of WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme

Two rotations down, one to our trainnes

WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme.

WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme offers a one-year structured learning programme run in partnership between Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) and WALK, a community organisation involved in the education and training of young people with intellectual disabilities, across Leinster.

Catherine Kelly, Director of Services at WALK says: “People with intellectual disabilities face constant barriers in trying to gain employment in the open labour market.  This programme offers ten people every year the opportunity to experience work in the supportive, safe and yet dynamic environment of Tallaght University Hospital.  It has been amazing to watch the journey these young people have taken since the start of the programme.  We now see people who are hugely more confident, who have made truly incredible transformations to emerge as young adults ready to step in to the world of work and ready to take on all the responsibilities that comes with it.”

The overall aim of this program is for the trainees to gain employability skills and certification through experiences from working within the large hospital setting and across various roles.   DDLETB’s Adult Education Service (South West) provide a structured learning programme for certification, offering QQI modules to support the work experience. WALK will continue to support the trainees through creating a Business Support Network of business people who will mentor the trainees when they finish the programme.  It is hoped that the trainees can go on to find career type employment.

Young people with intellectual disabilities were selected following a special recruitment process to enter the one-year structured experience in a learning environment that supports both the theory and practice.  Their current skill set, prospective skill set and work-desires secured their placement in the hospital on a training work rotation. 

The trainees undertake three rotations across 15 hospital departments.  The trainees work full time from 9am-3pm Monday-Friday, developing their work skill set, learning new tasks and socialising with their colleagues. The trainees are supported on site by two WALK staff who are based in Tallaght University Hospital. Alongside the hospital work experience, the trainees also attend DDLETB certified classes in the afternoon, to complement the on-the-job training

The trainees have all successfully completed two of their rotations and are on to their final rotation.  We are delighted to be continuing on the programme and are looking forward to 2018’s intake already. 

Trainee Story - Julieanne

Julieanne's journey so far...

When Julieanne, 26, started on the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme, she realised that the year-long internship was very different to anything she had ever experienced before. Previously, Julieanne completed many courses as she worked to develop her employability and computer skills.  Julieanne also fulfilled some short work placements and volunteer roles but she decided that she wanted to “figure out a path for her future career and try out different things and different types of work”. Hence, she put herself forward for consideration to be part of the programme in Tallaght University Hospital.

Julieanne has tried her hand at many different roles within the Hospital.  Each role carried with it different responsibilities.  Julieanne enjoyed working as a ward clerk’s post assistant where she was responsible for delivering and collecting post to and from all the wards in the Hospital each day.

One of Julieanne’s favourites roles had been working in the Hospital’s volunteer café. Here, Julieanne had the opportunity to engage with many new people. This is something that Julieanne admits she would have found difficult before taking part in the programme.  She feels her confidence is constantly growing as a result of her involvement with the programme and different experiences that comes with it.

Julieanne has become a familiar face to many who work in Tallaght University Hospital because of her busy and public-facing rotations. Julieanne welcomed the chance to learn how to operate the coffee machines in the café and also how to use the cash register.  Handling money at work was a totally new experience for Julieanne and she sees it as an important skill.

Julieanne admits that at the beginning of the programme she found it difficult to get into the routine of getting up every morning and to get ready and out to work every day. But she says it didn’t take long to get into the routine, and it was easier over time.  She is certain that she does not want finish the programme with nothing to progress to afterwards.  She now recognises the benefits of having a structure each week.

At the moment, Julieanne is unsure of what she would like to do once the programme is finished. However, she says that she may look to explore her career options for straight after she completes the programme and this may include participating in further training courses to add to her growing skillset.

Trainee Story - ChiHung

ChiHung's journey so far...


ChiHung, 21, had explored many different roles and work experience opportunities as part of his supports through WALK’s Real Life Training Programme.  These roles included shop floor worker, administrative assistant for a solicitors’ firm, and being a gym assistant. ChiHung also completed multiple computer courses and this is a special area of interest for him that he hopes to learn more about.

ChiHung decided that he wanted to take part in the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme because his future goal is to one day have a paid job. He recognised that taking part in the internship could give him worthy experiences and also give him an idea of different types of job roles and what they would be like to do as part of a career. ChiHung also had hopes of learning new things every day.

Since the beginning of the programme, ChiHung has been a team member of three different departments in the Hospital. On his last training rotation, ChiHung was based in the Speech and Language Therapy department, where he really enjoyed gaining experience in some administrative based tasks. ChiHung really felt like part of the team, especially when they would all go for their morning coffee break together.

ChiHung has overcome the challenge of the early morning starts from his first training rotation when he was working in the materials department.  Here he gained different experiences as he figured out different roles in this large warehouse including reading order sheets, understanding the numerical and alphabetical storage systems, picking and delivering orders to the wards, and inputting data on the computer systems. Since technology is something that ChiHung really enjoys, this work suited him.  As a show of appreciation and to highlight the impact on the team, ChiHung was given gifts from his team members last Christmas when his rotation was coming to an end.

ChiHung continues to learn many new skills on the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme.  A hospital staff member who worked with ChiHung said that it is his levels of confidence and engagement with his team that have grown the most.

ChiHung is unsure of what exactly he would like to do after the programme finishes but says he is now more likely to consider looking for a paid job in technology than he was before he embarked on the programme.

Trainee Story - Laura

Laura's journey so far...

Laura, 26, was supported by WALK’s advanced Real Life Training programme prior to taking up a trainee position on the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme.  She had previously undertaken varied work experiences including working as an usher in the National Concert Hall to being an extra on Fair City.  She had also undertaken work experience in Haven Pharmacy in Drimnagh at the time of taking up the traineeship and this resulted in her being offered a part time employment contract to work there every Saturday.

Laura applied for a place on the training programme because she was eager to learn about different job roles that may be on offer in a big hospital setting and also because she wanted to expand her work experience skillset.

Laura thoroughly enjoyed her rotations in both the Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy departments.  Her roles in these departments were varied from day to day between administration tasks, collecting post, entering patient information in the database and reception roles to cleaning equipment to being a group assistant.  Meeting and supporting the staff teams was Laura’s favourite part of her rotations here.

The biggest challenges for Laura to date have been the long days and in getting motivated to get up in the mornings, especially when it was still dark outside.  Laura however sees the bigger picture and has found ways to overcome these daily challenges!   Ultimately, Laura hopes to get paid employment with more full time hours.  She wants to earn money to be able to go to more musicals and concerts.  She wants to keep doing lots of fun things with her friends. She also wants to save up to go to Disney Land again because she loves Disney.

Trainee Story - Daragh

Daragh's journey so far...

Prior to joining the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme, Daragh, 24, was engaged in WALK’s Real Life Training programme.  During this time he had undertaken many opportunities including education advancement through which he completed a FETAC course in Further Learning and Art and also work experience in a busy local café.  It was through his work experience that Daragh realised how much he enjoyed working, especially in food services. Daragh decided to be part of the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme with hopes that it would add value to his CV and increase his potential for paid employment. 

Daragh has worked in several departments since he started the programme, including the busy and bustling canteen in the Hospital. In this department many jobs need to be carried out, giving plenty of opportunity to Daragh who is always eager to learn new skills. Daragh gained experience in understanding order sheets and preparing trollies for deliveries to patient wards each day.  In addition, he worked on the general upkeep in the canteen area in both front and back of house. One of the roles Daragh enjoyed most was working in the wash room, which was always busy.

Daragh also undertook work in the National Children’s Hospital parents’ rooms – where he cleaned and maintained resting areas for parents of sick children to the very high standard expected by the Hospital.

Daragh is always up for a challenge and enjoys trying his hand at many different things while working in different departments but it has been the people he has worked with along the way that has been his favourite part of the programme to date. Daragh found the initial experience of working in the Hospital quite daunting and the most difficult part of the programme but with lots of help and encouragement from his teams he navigated his way around and now enjoys learning new tasks. Daragh said he really felt a part of the catering team and that they were very funny and great fun to be around.

Daragh aims to find paid employment following the successful completion of the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital Programme rotations.  He is also planning to put his creative skills to use and write a fantasy novel!

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WALK is a registered Charity. Charity number is CHY 10777. Companies Registration Number 322400. Registered Charity Number (CRA Number) 20028008
WALK is the trading name for Walkinstown Association for People with an Intellectual Disability Limited. All rights reserved. © WALK 2015
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