At 49, Ola Gabriel made the life-changing decision to return to academic study. Having juggled family life alongside his studies for the past three years, he is now delivering mental health care in the community.
“Never say never – a new chapter begins with a little effort and focus on opening the first page,” said the Nursing student as he graduated, reflecting on how much he has achieved. “I was 49 years old when I walked through the door of the university. I was blessed with two beautiful daughters and a proudly supportive and great wife who was also a student at another university. This made things a little uneasy for the family; juggling university lectures with part-time work to cater for the family wasn’t easy, but somehow God saw us through. We made it.”
Ola previously worked as a health care assistant, substance misuse worker and Specialist Advisor to the CQC on substance misuse but decided on a degree in Mental Health Nursing. He is now a community psychiatric nurse with the Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, working in central home treatment. The 52-year-old would love to join the Care Quality Commission at some point in the future. “I’d like to contribute to the quality-of-care delivery in the UK,” he said.
He found opportunities to work on placement useful, such as in the tissue viability team. “I was so proud of myself even when I did not realise how much knowledge I’d accrued over time in my studies and working life,” said Ola, of Bartley Green, Birmingham. “It took me by surprise that I had the opportunity to take the team through the understanding of mental capacity assessment and the importance of gaining consent.”
Ola had another placement with the home treatment team in Worcester and eventually secured a job as a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) with Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. He said: “My placement with the home treatment was a brilliant experience. I was well supported, and the team allowed me to complete reports and assessments and commended me greatly. The clinical lead actually wrote a commendation letter to the University and asked me to apply to their team upon completion of my degree. This was amazing!”
He highlighted the support offered by the University and the Students’ Union to help students with a variety of issues.
“My time at the University of Worcester was great, and I have no regrets of any kind,” he added. “I went in with an open mind and positive attitude, having good knowledge of what university is.”
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