Ask Jules’ – agency enabling students with disabilities to go to university, giving them the crucial level of support before and during university.
As part of my open day at Southampton Solent University, I viewed an adapted room, similar to one, which I would be living in. The girl whose room we saw had a similar disability to mine, and needed the same amount of help.
During our viewing, the girl mentioned the agency ‘Ask Jules’ explaining that this agency enabled students with disabilities to go to university, giving them the crucial level of support before and during university.
Julie Pool and her family run the agency. She developed it herself after trying to find support for her son who has a physical disability who was about to embark on university himself.
After realising there was no such help out there, she saw a big gap in the market and Ask Jules developed.
When I contacted them for the first time, I was pleased with the response I got. I was asked to give an overview of my needs and the support I would require.
Next I was sent a form via email for me to fill out with information of my needs and personality.
After we submitted the form we got a phone call from the agency telling us they could support me through my university life.
They asked us where we were in the university process, offering their services and support.
We told them we were having difficulty finding carers and personal assistants (PA). The agency told us they could help us construct an advertisement for a suitable carer and PA.
I was given the choice to advertise for multiple carer’s to decrease the amount of pressure that would be on mine and the carer’s relationship. We were also asked whether we wanted to advertise for the carer and the PA separately or combine the two roles.
After some thought I decided to employ one person who would act as a PA and note taker and advertise for a separate morning carer. This way I didn’t have to share my personal matters with too many people.
As part of the process with Ask Jules we had to construct an advertisement for a PA/note taker and a separate one for the morning carer.
We thought long and hard about the personality traits that we would like to see in the PA to make sure that we would enjoy each other’s company. On the academic side
I needed a PA to assist me physically in and around the university as well as to help me get my bag ready for the day. The PA would need knowledge of media to be my study assistant so they would be able to assist me with my coursework and projects as well as them enjoying the course.
I would also need them to be a note taker, to take detailed notes during the lecture, as I was unable to keep up with the speed required. This would also mean I could listen to the tutors and be able to get a better understanding of the material they were covering.
Her duties would also include toileting and other forms of personal care, as well as cooking; preparing my lunch and cleaning and tidying my room.
I felt that the job applicant did not have to have previous experience in all of the areas required they just had to be open-minded and willing to learn.
I also needed a morning carer to assist me getting up in the morning and helping with my personal needs until I went to University for the day.
Once the job roles were clear to us we had to compile all the details into a form which would be sent to Ask Jules who would write advertisement for us and the form would also be given to the possible applicants beforehand so they were prepared if we chose to interview them.
The advert went in and we waited for the applicants.
Ask Jules viewed all applicants and narrowed them down to a select few; eliminating the ones they thought would be unsuitable for the job role and for me. They shortlisted and forwarded their details on to me, including their photograph, CV’s and references.
I was then able to view the applicants and further shortlist them myself to identify those I wished to interview for the job. We chose three to interview.
One was a few years older than me and had the appropriate care experience, but didn’t have much in terms of media knowledge. The second had a media background and had coincidently graduated from my chosen university the previous year.
The third applicant was again a few years older than me and though she didn’t have any care experience, she had a high level of media knowledge and experience, having studied a similar degree when she was at university.
When we interviewed the three applicants we spoke to them about the requirements to fulfill the job role; as well is this we had to see whether our personality traits matched.
This was due to the fact that the job required a round-the-clock commitment. We would be spending a lot of our free time together as well as in class and if our personalities didn’t match it would make our working relationship more difficult and have a negative effect on my uni life.
Taking everything into account, though the woman with the previous care experience was more suitable for the care role, her lack of media knowledge and experience would not be suitable to help me with coursework and projects.
The second applicant would be ideal as she was my age and would be able to help me with the social aspect of uni life and we would be able to have fun together and laugh.
Her graduating from the same university would also benefit me as she would know her way around and how the university operated and what is expected from each students.
However she was unable to handle the care requirements expected of her and unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to fulfil all the duties of the job.
As my PA/carer hadn’t done any personal care before, we thought would also enlist the help of someone that did have this experience to be my morning carer.
This role included getting me up; washed; dressed and completing duties such as toileting and showering and all sorts of other stuff to get me ready for my daily university. This person would also help me get my books and other equipment and items required for the day.
The agency chose someone to temporarily fill the role while we searched for a permanent morning carer. However, the lady that came to work with me was so fab, I asked to keep her on full-time.
We bonded really well and I didn’t want to start again and get used to a new person; also her previous carer experience made me feel confident that she would be able to fulfill the care duty.
Having a morning carer also meant the PA/carer could have her own time in the mornings to get herself up and ready for the day without feeling the extra pressure of getting me up washed and dressed in time.
This also allowed me to be able to interact with someone else and share interests that I did not have with my PA/carer.
As well as the morning carer being fun, a person I could have a laugh with, she also played a really important role as my friend and someone I could talk to.
This was reassuring as I felt that I could have relaxed conversations with her about important things without her taking it too seriously.
An example of this is when I felt homesick, she was able to talk it through with me and give me tips on how to manage it, she became like a sister to me, so friendly and making sure I was looking after myself, doing my work, eating and drinking.
She had a great sense of humor, making everything light and easy, this proved to be very helpful in the mornings as I am terrible at getting up in the morning. I love my bed and can be a nightmare to get up and ready on time.