Coventry mum Charlene signed up for an Access to Health programme after caring for her son
February 21, 2022

Coventry mum Charlene signed up for an Access to Health programme after caring for her son

Please note: This article was published on February 21, 2022 and may contain information that is no longer current or up to date.
Nursing student Charlene

A Coventry mum has shared her experience of how a college course has changed her life – and how she learned many of the skills to be a children’s nurse whilst caring for her son. 

Charlene Spreadborough decided to study an Access to Higher Education course in Health at Coventry College after caring for her son, Ayden.

He had a drug-resistant epilepsy, a symptom of a rare brain malformation known as bilateral polymicrogyria.

“My living room was turned into a hospital ward,” said Charlene as she recalls caring for her son.

“We had every type of machinery. I had to be trained to deal with all of that almost overnight.

“There were things that take nurses three years to learn and I was doing it within the space of a week or so.”

As part of caring for Ayden, Charlene learned how to manage an airway, how to give emergency medication, monitor oxygen levels and how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Following her son’s death aged four in April 2018, Charlene wanted to put the skills she had learned to use and decided to take an Access course at Coventry College.

The one-year course is designed for learners who may not hold traditional qualifications such as A-levels, but who want to go on to study at university. It is available in a range of subjects.

Charlene, 34, did not have A-level qualifications but had worked in social care as a clinical support worker previously and – after caring for her son – she wanted to put her skills to use in nursing.

“I was heartbroken after my son’s death, but his condition had taught me so much,” she said.

“I had the skills and experience for a nursing role that I knew could benefit others, but not the qualifications.”

Charlene started the health course in September 2018 and passed with a distinction, achieving the highest grades possible.

Now the mum-of-four is in her final year studying children and young people’s nursing at Coventry University and is set to embark on her dream job.

“The Access course has changed my life,” said Charlene, who lives in Canley, Coventry.

“I would never have been able to go to university without it.

“I am the first person in my family to go to university and my whole family dynamic will change now as I will be seen as a professional.”

Charlene has already received job offers and wants to work with children who have epilepsy after completing her degree.

She is also giving talks at various events about her experience and wants to encourage others to consider Access to Higher Education courses, particularly mature students.

“During the Covid pandemic a lot of people have had to leave jobs or decided to go out and look at other things,” Charlene added.

“An Access course could be a great option for people looking for a change of direction.

“It was very intense but the support I had at Coventry College was phenomenal, and I would not be where I am today without it.”

Visit our Access to Higher Education page.