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Date published

21 November 2018

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How it all started

I started a job as an RMN (mental health nurse) when I qualified 10 years ago. In my first job as a staff nurse, none of my managers or supervisors had done any dyslexia awareness training and I had not heard of the Access to Work process. My work was judged on how I performed, without any reasonable adjustments, compared to my non-dyslexic colleagues. I was given a bad reference. Next job: I applied for an Access to Work assessment & my NHS employer was given a list of assistive equipment to buy & training to organise. The whole process took months, I had the software but no training in how to use it (because I was expected to organise everything myself, despite having difficulties with organisation). I was still expected to keep up with huge volumes of admin as part of my role, then when my performance deteriorated more and more, HR got involved, my competencies as a clinician were called into question, and so I had to involve my union rep. I became really ill and was off sick with stress. All in all this lasted four years, I never did get my training in how to use the assistive software! Next job: already had the assistive technology & had workplace coaching which helped. That manager was more flexible & made some adjustments, such as job plan, hours of work, more working from home. Was not off sick! Next job: (current job). I am in a new NHS trust but the assistive technology I already have, I am not able to use due to issues with licensing & IT tell me I need to order new technology. I am so so sick of this, I am thinking of giving up nursing altogether.

What I did to try to overcome it

Many many meetings, trying to explain basics of dyslexia to managers & HR. Eventually involved a union rep which moved things forward.

How it made me feel

Misunderstood. Judged on my competencies without reasonable adjustments in place, a failure, worthless, ANGRY!!! Discriminated against.

The outcome

Eventually I changed jobs in same NHS Trust, got workplace coaching, a more understanding manager & enjoyed job for about 2 years, until a new manager came along & was more ruthless re targets & pressure got too much, despite reasonable adjustments & I left.

Final thoughts

The Access to Work process is long winded. I really feel there must be an easier way, eg allowing me to own the software & take it on to next job. I think all managers & HR & occupational health teams need neurodiversity awareness training. I want to link up with others in my situation but there's no forum, no equality & diversity lead, yet dyslexic nurses can be really great at what we do & I'm sure many leave.

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