A Supported Internship is a structured study programme specifically aimed at young people aged 16 to 24 with a learning disability, who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so. The programme, based primarily at an employer’s premises is intended to enable the supported interns to achieve sustainable, paid employment by equipping the young people with the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace.

Internships normally last for an academic year and include work placements of at least six months. The interns follow a personalised study programme which will include the opportunity to study for job relevant qualifications and English and Maths at an appropriate level.

The aim of supported internships is to prepare young people with learning disabilities and or special educational needs for paid employment by:

  • Supporting them to develop the skills valued by employers

  • Enabling them to demonstrate their value in the workplace

  • Developing confidence in their own abilities to perform successfully at work

The ideal, but not required outcome from a supported internship will be the offer of a paid job from an employer, possibly the employer who has hosted the internship, other outcomes include:

  • Building up experience from a CV, demonstrating that the young person has the skills and willingness to work

  • Changing the perception of employers about employing people with learning disabilities

  • Changing the perception of the young person’s family to show that they can work

  • Improving skills in English and Maths that enable the young person to be better prepared for work, including handling money, interacting with the public, practicing interview skills and becoming independent travellers.


  • An additional resource for your department who may bring additional skills to the team

  • Remove barriers to work that disabled people face

  • Raise awareness amongst staff and increase their understanding of learning disabilities

  • Supporting disabled people to have opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their employment aspirations

  • Create a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers it serves and the community in which it is based

Each of the placements when agreed will need to have a member of staff assigned to the individual on placement; they will act as a placement supervisor in the work place for the amount of time that the individual is with the organisation. This supervision will act as a line manager for the trainee giving them someone who can walk them through the basics of their role and help them to progress and enhance their skills while they are on placement with Mersey Care.


ypically this is between 16-24 (All parties involved with the work placement programme are aware of the age restrictions on mental health placements of 18+)

This is can alter between colleges and between courses of study. This can be from 6 -12 months.

They should be performing tasks that will allow them to gain confidence in the work place and in their own abilities.  They should be shadowing and observing but not involved if there are patient confidentiality issues. All participants placed with NWBH will be briefed and inducted much like our own staff, they will all receive information surrounding patient confidentiality, safeguarding, information governance and personal conduct.  The will also receive a local induction in their area of placement. 

As a trust requirement all participants of work based placements must have a placement supervisor who will be the point of contact for both the work based learning co-ordinator from Mersey Care and the college.  This supervisor will also be the main lead of the placement and will need to monitor all activities that are undertaken by or with the participant. There can be multiple supervisors for any location this should allow flexibility of time and shift patterns if required.  

The participants will need to complete a reflective/personal development type journal.  This will predominantly be reflective on the experience. This would require little time from the placement supervisors; although this can be dependent on the student’s course of study.

Placement can be anywhere in the trust with any team or department. The only restrictions that could be placed upon this are:

  • No under 18s on inpatient wards
  • Placement Participants are not to be left alone with service users
  • They must not undertake any clinical task
  • Working Hours can be determined by placement supervisors but this must be between 8am and 5pm if the participant is under 18
  • Anyone over the age of 18 must have a DBS certificate in place prior to commencing on a placement with Mersey Care
  • DBS will be provided by either Widening Participation or the place of study at no cost to Mersey Care

If you wish your service/team to offer placements you can complete the placement availability form here.

For further information on our Support Internship Programme please contact TalentforCare@merseycare.nhs.uk