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Sound engineer turned nurse creates resources website for patients with learning disabilities

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A sound-engineer turned learning disability nursing student in Wales has merged his past and current careers to create an online resources tool for patients and service users.

John-Marc Comperat, a learning disability nursing student at the University of South Wales, has used his past experience as a sound engineer to create Resource Buddy, an online library of materials for those with learning disabilities and their families.

“I guide people through the exercises, step by step using audio, so it means that staff, carers or the individuals themselves can just participate”

John-Marc Comperat

Mr Comperat joined his nursing course as a mature student, having previously worked as a support worker and a recording engineer.

In an Interview with Nursing Times, Mr Comperat explained how he “took the plunge” and left the music industry, and began working as a support worker at Llanfrechfa Grange Hospital, noting that it felt “more fulfilling”.

While in his support worker post, he realised he wanted to become a nurse, though dropping out full-time employment wasn’t financially viable.

Following this, his clinical manager signposted him to an opportunity to apply for funding to study the CertHE in healthcare nursing support worker education, meaning he could study while remaining employed.

It was an assignment on his course that lead to the creation of Resource Buddy, first known as Thought Buddy.

John-Marc Comperat

John-Marc Comperat

Source: John-Marc Comperat

Thought Buddy was created to offer learning disability patients and service users mindfulness resources.

Using his very own home studio, with the help and advise of nurses and psychologists, Mr Comperat recorded his voice to narrate mindfulness activities and sessions.

During his time as a support worker, he felt that there was not the time, money, training or resources to offer mindfulness to patients, despite plenty of research suggesting its benefits, he told Nursing Times.

“As nurses, or support workers or carers, often they don’t feel confident enough to do a group session or run a session with an individual,” he said.

Mr Comperat added: “I guide people through the exercises, step by step using audio, so it means that staff, carers or the individuals themselves wouldn’t have to have the confidence or skills to lead the session, but instead they could just participate.”

Following the success of Thought Buddy, Mr Comperat said he wanted his project to be more than just an assignment or a grade and so decided to develop it into Resource Buddy.

“As a mature student, time is valuable, if I’m going to do something I want to do something that is useful going forward, rather than just getting the marks and getting the assignment done,” he explained.

“So, it started off as Thought Buddy, with just mindfulness and then I started to think ‘why stop at mindfulness?’,” he added.

“I thought, if I could provide a website, a one-stop shop, for robust proven-to-work resources for LD nurses and carers to use then that would be great”

John-Marc Comperat

Over the last nine months, the project evolved into Resource Buddy, noted Mr Comperat.

“I thought in practice, even as a support worker, I’ve developed so many tools, things like now and next schedules, visual schedules, materials, things that in practice I’ve had to go and take time away from the patients or service users to develop,” he said.

“I thought, if I could provide a website, a one-stop shop, for robust proven-to-work resources for LD nurses and carers to use then that would be great,” he said.

So, that is exactly what Mr Comperat did. The website now includes resources, downloads, mindfulness and communication activities.

From the start of this month, he told Nursing Times there was a Twitter drive in support of the project from members of the learning disability community in Wales and across the UK.

On each day of February, between 6-7pm, someone will be trying to find an accessible resource that they found useful and they are going to send it to Mr Comperat to be used on Resource Buddy.

“The idea is, that if you work with a family and say they have a son or daughter with autism and they’ve developed a resource, or they’ve found something that is very useful to them, then I can post that on the website, with permission,” he said.

“For example, I could post ‘Mr jones found this really useful and it helped him get ready for school’ and then hopefully over time we’ll develop a really good one-stop shop of resources for people to use for free,” he explained.

The LD nurse hopes that his website will help to break down the barriers of time, money and resources, that prevent patients and services users from getting some of the help they need.

“Hopefully it will create a bit of a community where people will be able to go for help- hopefully Resource Buddy will spring to mind and they’ll be able to use that,” he added.

Eight months into his second year of study, he received a conditional offer of employment as a registered nurse within ABUHB, working on an assessment and treatment unit with adults with a learning disability and/or mental health problems.

Last year, he won the RCN Wales Student Nurse of the Year 2018 award, which he said reflects some of the wonderful people he’s been fortunate to encounter during his journey thus far and the skills and attributes they’ve been kind enough to share.

“Hopefully it will create a bit of a community where people will be able to go for help”

John-Marc Comperat

However, Mr Comperat is not the only mature student who is male and has changed their career to go into nursing at the University of South Wales.

Steve Williams, previously worked as a roofer, labourer, and a cavity wall technician but got made redundant. He decided to make a career change and work in a hospital, having cared for his grandfather.

Mr Williams was working as a theatre assistant in Prince Charles Hospital before commencing his training.

In a blog from the university, Mr Williams said: “I’ll never regret doing my nurse training. Now, after six years training, I’m two months from qualifying and even though putting on that nurse’s uniform scares me I’m looking forward to this next challenge in my life, and can’t quite believe I’ll have an honours degree, which I never thought I would be capable of 10 years ago.”

According to the university, Peter Griffiths, another mature nursing student there, used to be an army officer.

In his blog from the university he explained how he became interested in nursing after looking after and losing both of his parents.

He said: “As a mature student I believe I can bring a lot to the nursing profession. I have found that either in university or on placement, being that bit older and with life experience has helped both me and my patients.

Mr Griffiths added: “Everything I have done has involved people, communication and dealing with various needs, but nothing has been more enlightening and fulfilling as my nurse training.”

Nursing student, David Longden, also took a career move, changing from performing arts to taking up an adult nursing course.

During an acting gap, in between contracts, Mr Longden started working as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. It was this that led him to pursue a career in nursing.

In his account for the university he said: “My proudest moment was receiving my first job offer as staff nurse at A&E and I can’t wait to graduate and get started! I love the fast pace of emergency and critical care and intend to pursue further post-graduate studies in this field.”

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