I was very interested in Epilepsy Actions campaigning film alerting people how to administer first aid in the event of a person with the condition having a seizure.
I was interested because of my own child’s epilepsy but it also brought to mind a story which my husband encountered at work.
The manager of a maintenance department was approached by a local youth employment scheme as they were looking to place a young guy with epilepsy. I’ve changed his name
Tim started work and was notable because he worked hard worked well and the office admin had never been as thoroughly and efficiently managed. It’s not an over statement to say he transformed the department in this area.
His seizure activity was well managed and his self-esteem was boosted which had an impact on the seizures.The manager was present for any seizures which were few and far between and these occurred with less than slight impact on anyone’s working day because everything had been re-organised by Tim so well.
The day came though when the Manager wasn’t present and Tim had a seizure. The response by the staff afterwards was nothing short of disgusting. They complained and they asserted collectively that it was inappropriate for Tim to continue to be placed. The agency were involved and the manager fought hard for Tim to stay, but the weight of staff opinion was against them.
One member of staff had cited her pregnancy as the reason why Tim had to go.
Tim’s Dad arrived to collect his son and take him home. He was philosophical. He said that this had been the longest placement Tim had ever had, that it was a shame as he’d enjoyed it but that this was always the reason why the placement ended. His experience of the system ensured that he didn’t want to “make a fuss” apparently this made finding other placements much more difficult.
It’s worth noting that this was a hospital.
Ignorance and crass bigotry to do with epilepsy ended Tim’s placement. I hope that a wider awareness of the condition and an understanding of basic first aid might help people to understand the person who lives with the condition because epilepsy doesn’t define or marginalize people, ignorance does.