Ciara Jenner

Foundation Degree - Health & Social Care (Higher Apprenticeship)


I came to Swindon College by accident, really! I had been in my post as a Health Care Support Worker for approximately one year, supporting the Occupational Therapists on the ward where I work. My colleagues went to our Ward Manager to see whether there were any opportunities for me to progress my career development as, I believe, they were really impressed with the work I was doing with the patients and within the team.

She made some enquiries and I was asked whether I would be interested in applying for the Trainee Assistant Practitioner course. I had to go for an interview for a funded place as there were several other candidates and, luckily, I was successful. I then went to Swindon College for an official college interview and I was very nervous but I was fortunate enough to be accepted.

Even though I initially had no intentions of “going back to college” I am eternally thankful to all those who have given me this amazing opportunity.


How did you find your course?

Truthfully, it’s been very hard work but I have been supported every step of the way by my tutors. They have supported me when times have been difficult both academically and personally. I think they genuinely care about the welfare of their students which really makes a difference. If you feel valued as a student and as a person then it makes you want to strive to achieve the best results you can. Unfortunately, as I only attend college one day a week, I haven’t been able to make full use of all the facilities that are on offer but I have been very impressed by the range of things that have taken place whilst I have been here.


What are the benefits of studying at Swindon College?

As I already mentioned, the support from tutors has been invaluable at times. I honestly believe that any success I’ve had on the course is due to their commitment to their students. The class is a safe space to talk about scenarios at work and you feel that you can be honest, as well as speaking up about difficulties that have arisen. You’re never made to feel that you cannot ask a question, even if you think it’s going to sound ridiculous. I have been on a few courses after secondary school but this is the first academic learning I have participated in which has made me look at how I learn, and from this I have been able to try and amend naughty habits in order to achieve those good grades.


How did your course fit around other commitments?

It has been difficult on occasions, due to working full-time. But this course had made me improve my time management skills in order to work out how to work hard, study hard, and play hard! You need to ensure you have the right balance of those things as it is important to remember your identity and to do the things you are passionate about. Life is for living! I think being on the course has benefitted me in my role at work as I am more organised and manage my day much better; I work more autonomously now as a result of the course, with my own caseload of patients. This would have daunted me prior to the course but now I can manage this with ease.


What are your future plans?  Do you intend to go on to further study or work?

I have a more comprehensive understanding of my role within the team at work and can see the progression which is really exciting. My plans are to be promoted into a Band 4 post with a focus on Occupational Therapy as this is where my passion lies. I already help the ward with managing the flow of patients and discharge planning and my plans are for this to continue. I also now supervise another member of staff which an exciting new challenge and hope I can continue to mentor others in the future. Depending on finances and opportunities available, I would eventually like to train to be an Occupational Therapist as I truly believe that promoting health, independence and happiness in a holistic way can be of benefit to anyone and everyone. If you have satisfaction in your work, then you don’t feel like you’re actually “at work”. I enjoy problem solving and working with others to overcome difficulties; there is no more rewarding aspect of my job at present thank knowing you have helped another person, that they have been discharged from hospital safely and are able to live the most in the most independent way possible, therefore I would like to continue to explore this through Occupational Therapy.


Would you recommend Swindon College and why?

Yes. If you want to progress your career in an environment that supports you to strive to achieve the best you can, then I recommend you attend the Foundation Degree at Swindon College!