Vocational area: Health & Social Care
Duration: 4 weeks
"I was able to see what a health and social care service is like in a foreign country and how the approaches differ from the UK. Having an organisation for the elderly and children in one building allows them both to interact and helps to improve the elderly's mental health."
I was encouraged to take part in this trip by the staff at my college as they thought it was a great opportunity. Before I put my name forward for it, I had to prepare myself mentally to be away from home for a whole month as I had not been away for this long before.
My work placement was in a setting that provided for elderly people and children from the age of a baby to secondary school.
I was able to see what a health and social care service is like in a foreign country and how it differs from the UK. Having an organisation for the elderly and children in one building allows them both to interact and helps to improve the elderly’s mental health.
I did colouring and games with the elderly and children, helped them walk or with their wheelchairs to meal times and served their meals and encouraged them to eat.
I took part in the Marchas of São João with the elderly and the children where we performed in front of the public in costumes.
My biggest learning achievement was that I was able to communicate with people of all ages, both service users and staff, despite the language barrier. Most people did not know or understand much English but I was still able to develop good relationships with them all.
I found that the staff had a more relaxed approach to their relationships with the service users than in the UK. They would give them a kiss on each cheek and a hug when they saw them, and I could see that it made the service users feel more loved and cared for.
My group thoroughly enjoyed the local Festas de São Pedro celebration which took place on the beach front on my street, and involved lots of dancing, music and fireworks. Our area was a very friendly zone where I felt comfortable and safe.
My time in Portugal has helped me build my confidence to interact with new people of all ages and to develop my independence in work. I had to try and overcome challenges whilst abroad, and I would not have gained as much from a placement in the UK.
I am going to Oxford Brookes University in September to study Paramedic Science. All of the skills I have developed and learnt whilst on placement in Portugal, I will take with me to university and I believe they will help me to be an even better Paramedic.
Improved language skills
Exposure to cultural experience
Improved people skills
Collaboration and partnership is at the heart of what we do.
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