Blog: What it's like to be autistic and work at NBT

Friday, 29 March 2019


“What is your favourite species of monkeys?”
“You sure you are alright, mate?”
Brain thinking: “Just being friendly”

Hi, I’m Sophie and I’m autistic. I work at NBT. I worked on Elgar 1 ward as a Healthcare Assistant for 3 years and have just joined the People Strategy Team who focus on staff health and wellbeing. I can talk to you for hours about monkeys and neurotransmitters but I can struggle to communicate and interact with others as I don’t instinctively know what people are thinking or feeling.

There are 700,000 people on the autistic spectrum in the UK but only 16% are in full time employment and only 32% are in some kind of paid work. So, the million pound question: What’s it like to be autistic and work at NBT?

Elgar 1: I am able to use my memory skills to help support patients e.g.: frequency of obs and blood sugars so all patients medical needs can be met. I am also able to provide person centred care by having extensive knowledge of patients’ preferences, hobbies and interests e.g.: everything from how they like their morning tea/coffee to favourite sports team.

A common misconception is that autistic people don’t feel empathy. However, I am able to use my empathy and relate to patients who have received lifelong diagnosis and be better able to support them using my experience of receiving a lifelong diagnosis.

I am able to use my enthusiasm and passion for caring for patients to work effectively as a team and lead by example on ward projects e.g. end PJ paralysis project I am the dining room co-ordinator and have the role supporting and assisting team members with mobilising patients to the dining room and ensuring all patients have their chosen food. I also have the responsibility of doing the end PJ paralysis count and have the autistic advantage of being able to recall our data from memory when the CQC or Perform team visit.

I am able to use my communication skills to explain procedures to patients to help them feel less anxious and more calm and reassured. Plus teach the patients who are interested in the anatomy and physiology behind the procedure e.g.: I have taught the cardiac cycle and structure of haemoglobin to patients in bay 1. In addition I am able to coach staff how to perform procedures and how to respond to deteriorating patients. I am known as the NEWS 2 brain and HCAs seek my advice if their patients have an abnormal NEWS score in order to provide the best care and treatment immediately.

Furthermore, I used my teamwork and communication skills to teach students how to re pot plants in order to get the patient garden ready for the open day event.

People Strategy Team: I am able to use my memory skills as I can remember when all the events are in the wellbeing calendar and all our wellbeing programmes so I am able to inform and engage staff with the programmes to promote health and happiness at NBT.

I am able to use my creative imagination and problem solving skills to make our current wellbeing programmes more accessible e.g. promoting our twitter page by taking pictures of staff (with informed consent) and posting healthy heart facts as part of National Heart Month in order to promote healthy lifestyle.

I am able to use my enthusiasm for health promotion during wellbeing events as I am able to get staff interested in the event topic e.g.: Nutrition and Hydration Week by being approachable and friendly so I am able to share my health promotion knowledge in order to improve staff health and wellbeing.

With the right support and guidance autistic employees are just as capable and can achieve just as much as neurotypicals. In the words of Temple Grandin: ‘Different not less’