An inspirational and determined learner who overcame a serious brain injury to achieve a career-enhancing qualification hopes her experience will help inspire others during Brain Awareness Week
In June 2014, Zoe Chew, a cardiographer in the Cardiology department at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, suffered a brain injury while socialising with friends. She was rushed to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield where she spent 11 days battling to regain basic skills such as her speech, ability to read and her memory. Doctors believe her condition was caused by a viral infection.
Despite the impact the brain injury has had on her life, Zoe was determined to return to work after three months. Talking to patients helped her regain her speech and language skills as well as her confidence. Despite the barriers she continued to face, Zoe also enrolled at Rotherham College to study for a Level 3 Diploma in Clinical Healthcare Support, which she has now completed.
Brain Awareness Week, run by the Dana Foundation from 13 to 19 March, is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.
Zoe said: “I was at my friend’s house in June 2014 when I started to feel unwell and passed out. I remember waking up at the Royal Hallamshire but my speech and language skills and memory had really suffered. I felt so depressed recovering at home and was desperate to come back to work where I knew I could develop my language skills quicker.
“With the support of my colleagues I came back to work and it really helped talking to them and to patients. The support from my colleagues was absolutely fantastic and their faith in me boosted my confidence. I’m so grateful to them. I still struggle at times now but I honestly think I’ve come so far because of the support of my friends.
“The Level 3 qualification was something I really wanted to do, despite battling anxiety and depression. Wendy at Rotherham College was so encouraging, without being patronising or sympathetic. She treated me like any other student.
“It was amazing to get that qualification, I felt so proud. I hope that my experience, particularly during Brain Awareness Week this week, shows that if there are things you want to do and learn – you can. I hope I can inspire others to give things a go.”
To celebrate her efforts, Zoe was presented with the most Accomplished Learner Award at the PROUD Awards 2016, held at the Carlton Park Hotel in November.
The Most Accomplished Learner Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional results from learning. This could include gaining new qualifications or on the job learning, resulting in exceptional outcomes for the Trust, colleagues or patients.
She said achieving the award after everything she has been through was “smashing.”
Zoe was nominated for the award by Wendy Flynn at Rotherham College. She said: “Zoe was really anxious about returning to a learning environment and lacked confidence in her own abilities. But she slowly built up a rapport with her peers and with each piece of work her confidence started to grow.
“All her work was completed to a high standard. She was able to relate theory to practice and demonstrated a high standard of professionalism, excellent time management and organisational skills. When I observed Zoe at work I received such positive comments from her colleagues. I was regularly told what a great team member she was and she always sought feedback and constructive criticism which she reflected on to improve further. I also saw first-hand how she shows empathy, respect and understanding and provides care and support with compassion.”
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