"A day in the life of" was inspired by the legacy of Ryan Harper, the young man with profound and multiple learning disabilities who actively contributed to a Pilot Project with PAMIS, NHS Education for Scotland and the Robert Gordon University to support the training of radiography students.

The aim of the project was to explore the impact on student development, including their attitude, communication and person centred skills by spending dedicated time with service users and their carers.

Scenario 1: Mark and Maureen - Preparation to hear


It is the third year at Dundee University College for Mark. Final exams are approaching and for the first time he is failing one of his modules. Because of this, he feels as if his bright hope of becoming a teacher is fading. Each day feels like an increasing struggle. Just a lot of things to get through. He doesn’t want his life to be defined by difficulties and limitations. He wants to find his own place.



Mark is very conscious of his Mum Maureen’s support and efforts all through his school life and into University. He doesn’t want to let her down. He knows deep down that his Mum’s main focus has to be on his sister, Gillian, who has profound and multiple learning disabilities. Just recently, he is finding it difficult to face up to the University expectations and ask for the help he needs himself.

He is also moving in to a flat in Dundee and just be "normal". He needs to speak to his Mum about all these changes happening in his life. There just never seems the time.


Maureen, Mark's Mum

Maureen is so proud of Mark’s achievements and his ability to overcome obstacles. Mark has always been the easy one for her to care for despite his disability. Nothing seems to faze him.

She has been a strong campaigner in Scotland for awareness raising on disability issues to smooth her children’s paths in so far as she is able. She knows this irritates Mark a little who prefers to make things happen for himself, with as little fuss as possible. Knowing this, she is confident that Mark can take everything in his stride in the same way he has always done. The real struggle for her at the moment is with Gillian and she needs to know Mark is also there for her.


Today, Mark has a meeting with his university advisor, Kevin.

It is mid-morning, in the family home.

Mark is ready to leave for his university appointment and is just waiting for his Mum Maureen to head off with him (Mark’s Mum has adifferent meeting on her mind - that of an afternoon appointment with Gillian’s specialist).


Are you listening? Co-Mediators: Fiona O'Donnell (lead) and Anna Stefanova

Mark is losing patience with his Mum about the amount of attention Gillian always demands. Maureen his Mum is perplexed by this thinking everything is going so well for Mark. They decide to speak to a mediator that they both know about how they can try to talk to each other.

(This Preparation Conversation in mediation highlights some issues that families caring for someone with PMLD have to cope with and the possible impact for each member of the family)

Scenario 2: Mark and Jade - Exploratory


Jade, Mark's Personal Assistant

Jade has experience of the difficulties in juggling all the different kinds of help from different sources from the University. She is a strong advocate and has had previous experience of how hard it can be to get the University to do things her way. Not fully aware of Mark’s own circumstances, she senses that Mark is finding it difficult to cope with the transition into third year and is determined to make things work for him.


Mark is waiting to see Kevin, his Advisor at the University and Jade is determined to set the agenda. He is finding it harder and harder to just let anyone, including Jade, know what’s really happening and how he’s feeling. He feels as if he’s become invisible.


Are you listening? Co-Mediators: Dave Ritchie (lead) and Janet Peggie

Mark respects and admires Jade's drive but he needs to find a way to tell her to stop without hurting her feelings

Jade senses something's amiss. They decide to speak to a mediator that they both know about how they can try to talk to each other.

(This Exploratory Conversation through mediation highlights the complexities involved when there is the caring and determined champion not only for an individual but for a wider cause)

Scenario 3: Jade and Kevin - Overcoming barriers



As Assistant Dean, Kevin has faced a lot of challenging issues this year with cuts in funding and rationalisation of courses. With the University’s commitment to widening participation and an inclusive curriculum, the School has been held up as a shining example of good practice but Kevin is distracted at the moment, having just received some unexpected news about his career.

Kevin is aware that one of his students, Mark, has become withdrawn and unresponsive to offers of help and this has caused frustration with the placement phase of his education.

In liaison with Disability Services, Academic Skills Centre and the Student Funding Unit, lots of help has been made available to assist Mark but Mark has not responded to requests to attend review meetings.

Kevin is aware of Mark’s independent spirit but is disappointed that Mark’s academic potential isn’t developing. He is worried his present withdrawal attitude is causing a problem.

He is receiving mixed message from a variety of sources including Jade on Mark’s behalf and is becoming annoyed at the strident tone being taken.



Mark is trying to keep up a brave face that he can cope independently, but he feels that his University advisor, Kevin, has become disinterested and irritable with him.


Are you listening? Co-Mediators: Maggie Davidson (lead) and Louise Gilmour

Following a difficult University meeting, Jade invites Kevin to participate in a mediation meeting with her to speak about how their past history is causing friction with Mark's circumstances.

(This Overcoming Barriers Conversation through mediation highlights the assumptions that individuals can make about the actions and communications of others)

Scenario 4: Mark, Maureen, Jade and Kevin - Finding Solutions


We find Kevin, Jade and Mark continuing their discussion at the university meeting...with a surprise addition on its way. All are about to become aware that everything is not as they had assumed.


Are you listening? Co-Mediators: Wesley Rennison (lead) and Katryn Campbell

This Final Mediation conversation highlights the issue of the individual voice being lost without time to listen and Mark, Maureen, Jade and Kevin start to find solutions.