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What is Non-Medical Helper?

NMHs are support workers and other non-medical assistants you might need to use, to benefit fully from your course of study. These can include Disability Assistants (e.g. note takers or library support), Specialist Mentors, Specialist Study Skills Tutors, Examination Support Workers and BSL Interpreters, for example.

How do I know if I am eligible for NMH support?

You can apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) if you have a disability (as per the Equality Act 2010 definition). This includes a:

  • long-term health condition
  • mental health condition
  • specific learning difference (SpLD), e.g. dyslexia

If you have applied for DSA, you may have been recommended specialist NMH support following your Assessment of Needs. If your funding body (e.g. Student Finance England) has agreed to the recommendations, this will be confirmed to you in writing by them. Your funding confirmation letter (known as a DSA2) will detail what support has been approved, how many hours’ support you are entitled to, and who has been named to provide your support. Disability and Inclusion will normally receive a copy of your DSA2 from your funding body as well, and in most instances the NMH team will liaise directly with your named provider on your behalf to put your recommended support in place automatically.

You may also have met with a Disability Support Officer (DSO) at the University of Chester and discussed reasonable adjustments the university can put in place for you, which will be detailed in your Inclusion Plan. Reasonable adjustments may include non-specialist NMH support via a Disability Assistant. Any agreed non-specialist NMH support will be arranged for you by the NMH team in Disability Support.

How can a NMH support me?

The type of NMH support you could get will depend on your individual needs, but your NMH should have a good understanding of the support you need and be reliable and trustworthy. Your DSA Needs Assessor or DSO should explain the NMH roles they are recommending, and how these can assist you in your studies.

To get the most effective help possible from your NMH, you should let them know if you have any specific requirements; for example, if you have a Disability Assistant who provides you with typed-up lecture notes, you should let them know what font and text size is best for you. You should also give them a copy of your timetable and let them know as soon as you are aware of any class time or room changes.

How do I know who my NMH will be?

The NMH team in Disability and Inclusion, or your named support provider, will contact you to inform that you have been matched to an NMH. Your NMH will be asked to make contact with you initially, to introduce themselves to you and make arrangements to set up your support sessions. If you do not respond to their initial attempts to contact you, they will advise the NMH team who will then contact you to check whether you do wish to access your agreed NMH support.

How will my NMH contact me, and how do I contact them?

The NMH will be given your student email address and the contact telephone number we hold on record for you, and will be asked to contact you using both methods.

Additionally, you will be provided with your NMH’s university email address and a contact phone number. They may subsequently provide alternative contact details in addition to these, but we would encourage you to contact them on the details provided by Disability and Inclusion where possible.

Do I have to access all my agreed NMH support?

You are under no obligation to access your recommended support. However, we would strongly advise that you do take up any support that is offered to you. Please advise the NMH team or your named NMH provider if you do not want to take up any element of your recommended support.

You should be aware that, if you do not take up the recommended support, any future requests for extensions, deferrals or appeal on the grounds of your disability/SpLD may be declined.

If you feel a different NMH role would be more appropriate for you particular needs, please discuss this with a DSO. They will work with you to explore whether there would be scope for requesting alternative NMH support, and request funding for this where justification can be demonstrated.

Can I ask for a different NMH?

We recognise that there are sometimes reasons why you may wish to request a different NMH. If there is good reason for needing to be reallocated, please contact the NMH team or your NMH provider to discuss this further and they will work with you to find a more suitable NMH who can meet your support needs.

On the rare occasion where you might need to request a change to your named NMH provider (e.g. if they are no longer able to supply a particular NMH role), you must contact your Needs Assessor or funding body directly as Disability and Inclusion would be unable to do this on your behalf.

How frequently do I have to meet my NMH?

In most situations your funding is allocated in hours so there is scope for some flexibility around how often you meet. You will be able to discuss this with your NMH to find an arrangement that suits you both, but most students will meet a specialist NMH for an hour per week. It can be useful to have a regular day and time to meet with your NMH, which fits within your weekly study schedule and provides structure.

Non-specialist support may be less flexible as it will usually be dependent on your study timetable. Depending on the specific NMH role, non-specialist support is typically recommended for in-class support (i.e. during lectures/seminars/practical lab sessions/timetabled exams).

Where should I meet my NMH?

Your support sessions must be held in a publically accessible space on campus, unless you have specific agreement for remote support (e.g. via Skype). Typically students will meet their support worker in the library or one of the catering outlets, but it is down to you to decide where you feel most comfortable and can work most productively. There are a few private rooms available within the campus libraries that students are able to book in advance, and your academic department may also be able to assist with room bookings for study support sessions.

Please note that NMHs are not able to book rooms on your behalf, but may be able to facilitate you doing this yourself.

I have a Disability Assistant NMH to take notes for me in lectures. Can they take notes if I’m not there?

Unless your NMH has been recommended to specifically do so by Disability and Inclusion, this would not be deemed appropriated. You would be expected to attend your lectures.

If you feel that, due to the nature of your disability, you may miss a number of lectures, please discuss this with Disability and Inclusion so we can work with you to find the most suitable support option for your circumstances.

Can my NMH accompany me on a field trip?

This would need to be discussed and agreed with Disability and Inclusion before the trip is due to take place. If you become aware you may require NMH support on a field trip, please contact Disability and Inclusion to request an appointment with a DSO as soon as possible.

Can I access NMH support outside of term time?

If you need to access your NMH support during holiday periods, please email the NMH team to advise of this. You do not normally need to request permission for this within the academic year, but it is useful for us to be aware.

If you need to access support over the summer, past the last day of the academic year (e.g. if you are working on deferred assignments; or are preparing for reassessment in the August examination period) then you must contact Disability and Inclusion to discuss this as you may need to request authorisation from your funding body – particularly if you are a final year student.

I’m running out of hours but feel I need more support, what can I do?

If you feel that you need additional or different NMH support, in the first instance you will need to contact your Needs Assessor to discuss your requirements.

If you require assistance with this, please contact Disability and Inclusion to discuss this with a DSO. If the DSO feels there is sufficient justification to request additional hours to what the Needs Assessor has already recommended, they can work with you to request additional support from your funding body. The DSO can also work with you to see if there is any alternative, more suitable support available to you.

Can my NMH help me with study skills?

Unless your NMH has been recommended to specifically do so (i.e. if they are a Specialist One-to-One Study Skills Support Tutor), it would not be appropriate to provide additional support that hasn’t been recommended. However, your NMH may be able to signpost you to where you can find study skills resources. If you feel you might need support with study skills, we would recommend you contact the Study Skills team within the Learning and Teaching Institute (LTI), or look at the resources they have available on their pages.

Can my NMH proof-read my work?

Unless your NMH has been recommended to specifically do so, this support would not be appropriate. However, your NMH may be able to signpost you to where you can find study skills resources. If you feel you might need support with study skills, we would recommend you contact the Study Skills team within the Learning and Teaching Institute (LTI), or look at the resources they have available on their pages.

I need to make an appointment with a DSO to discuss my support recommendations. How do I do this?
  • Visit one of the Student Futures - Support Info Point: in CBK 005 (Ground Floor, Binks building, Parkgate Road campus, Chester); or in WMA012 (Ground Floor, Martin building, Warrington campus)
  • Email disability@chester.ac.uk or NMH@chester.ac.uk
  • Telephone Disability and Inclusion on 01244 511059