‘Ryan’s legacy helps NHS Bioengineer understand wheelchair users’ needs’


AN NHS Trainee Bioengineer is to gain first-hand experience of the lives of the disabled people he’ll be working with thanks to a partnership between NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and Capability Scotland.

Colin Mair, a trainee at the NHS West of Scotland Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre (Westmarc), will spend the day with Dianne Clyde, who lives in Capability’s Lanarkshire Houses service, this Friday (23rd March).

The placement is part of the ‘Ryan Harper Legacy: Day in the Life of’… project which is funded by NES.

The project is designed to help people understand the needs of those with disabilities

Ryan Harper was one of seven young people who took part in a pilot project which gave trainee radiographers the unprecedented opportunity to shadow young people with complex disabilities and their families over the course of a day.

Sadly Ryan died shortly after the pilot finished however his mother, who assisted in the evaluation of the experience, generously agreed that this type of practice based learning could be his legacy.

The Ryan Harper Legacy provides a structure for practice placement opportunities for allied health professionals and other members of the healthcare team.

Colin’s placement is one of two currently taking place with Westmarc Bioengineers. Bioengineers prescribe and provide mobility aids and equipment, including wheelchairs, to disabled people every day.

Many of the people they work with also have communication support needs which is why Colin’s placement with Dianne is so valuable.

Dianne uses a wheelchair and is unable to communicate verbally.  Colin will be finding out first-hand how this impacts on her daily life. He hopes the experience will leave him better equipped to understand the needs of people like Dianne who are likely to use his services in the future.

Colin said: “I’m really looking forward to spending time with Dianne and seeing how what we do at Westmarc impacts on her life.  I feel honoured to have been chosen for this opportunity and will make sure I share my learning with other colleagues.”

Dianne commented: “I think the Ryan Harper Legacy is a fantastic idea.  If health professionals have a better understanding of the needs of disabled people then it will hopefully lead to more flexible and accommodating services.  For example when Colin sees how long it takes me to go through my morning routine, he will understand why early morning appointments are often a no-no for disabled people.”

Westmarc’s Principal Bioengineer Dr Peter Greene, said: “During training bioengineers work frequently with disabled people but would rarely spend longer with them than several hour-long appointments.  This placement presents an excellent opportunity for them to gain a deeper insight into the lives of those with a disability and their families.”

Capability Scotland’s Senior Policy and Consultancy Manager, Elspeth Molony, commented:  “Capability Scotland is delighted to be working in partnership with NES, PAMIS and Westmarc on this project.  The Ryan Harper Legacy is offering Colin unprecedented access into the life of someone who may well be a client of his in the future.”