Trainees visit Barnsley

Barnsley AT team are helping to train a new batch of trainee clinical scientists! I’m Simon, and I’m one of them. Along with Elliot, another clinical science trainee, I recently spent a week seeing the good work of the Barnsley assistive technology team all across Yorkshire.

We had a great introduction to the variety of things that the team do – providing the right technology to help with any complex access, communication and environmental control needs is no mean feat! We found ourselves fitting a custom-made clip-on arm to hold a tablet to a little girl’s standing frame so that she could communicate with people; we wound up remotely setting up a special user interface to help a client who struggled to use a computer; we got to see a triage meeting where new referrals are discussed; and somehow we ended up testing several new devices under development – amongst other things.

One particularly interesting part was a challenge given to us by Michael (who is rather good at making mechanical modifications to equipment in his evil villain’s lair workshop deep below Barnsley Hospital). A holder had to be made to keep a communication aid on a wheelchair arm, while allowing it to be put on and off easily by someone lacking fine motor control. The amount of thought that goes into every aspect of the work is fantastic.

Clinical scientists are the cross-disciplinary people in NHS healthcare science, responsible for giving the best clinical services that science can provide. There are lots of clinical science themes, from genetics and neurosensory sciences to medical physics and clinical engineering: assistive technology comes under engineering, and nearly half of the team at Barnsley were trained as clinical scientists in engineering, so anyone who is thinking about a career helping people in the way that Barnsley AT team do could do worse than looking at becoming a clinical scientist! If you are interested, anybody with a related degree can apply to become a trainee clinical scientist on the Scientist Training Programme.