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Progressive illnesses

Progressive disease or progressive illness is a disease or physical ailment whose course in most cases is the worsening, growth, or spread of the disease. This may happen until there is serious debility, organ failure and may be life-limiting. Some progressive diseases can be halted and reversed by treatment. Many can be slowed by medical therapy, and people can have periods of remission or relapse dependent on their diagnosis. Conditions can be variable and fluctuate on a daily basis, with no warning or apparent trigger.

What you might notice or observe

Symptoms may vary according to the student’s diagnosis and reasonable adjustments will be made based on the impact on the student. Some examples are below:

Cystic Fibrosis

Multiple Sclerosis

Muscular Dystrophy

Parkinson’s Disease

Huntington’s Disease

In this short video from the MS Trust, they ask people if being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis made any difference to their work or studies.

Positive ways you can support a student with a progressive illness

  • Discuss the impact of the condition on the student.
  • If you know that a student has a progressive condition that may flare up, be prepared to offer some reasonable flexibility about deadlines.
  • Look at the student’s strengths and existing strategies for managing workload.
  • Encourage the student to access support from other services such as the Wellbeing team or Money Advice team, should they need it.
  • Check if there are any reasonable adjustments you can put in place to support the student.

For further advice and support, contact the Disability Support team in Catalyst.

Refer to the Student Support Plan if the student has one – these are shared with the named contact in the Department or Faculty or contact the Disability Support team.

If your student’s disability or condition is affecting their wellbeing or mental health see our Mental Health toolkits for advice on how to support them.

Check if there are any reasonable adjustments you can put in place to support the student.

Early referral can prevent students falling behind with their work. Contact the Disability Support team to make a referral if:

  • You are aware the student has a progressive illness and requires support.
  • The student doesn’t have a Student Support Plan in place already.
  • You feel you need support around reasonable adjustments.

If the student requires support with anything else including accommodation, money advice or wellbeing support contact the Catalyst Helpdesk to make a referral.

If your student’s disability or condition is affecting their wellbeing or mental health see our Mental Health toolkits for advice on how to support them.

Useful links and further reading

MS Society UK

Huntingdon’s disease – NHS

Cystic fibrosis – NHS

Parkinson’s disease – NHS

Refer to the Student Support Plan if the student has one – these are shared with the named contact in the Department or Faculty or contact the Disability Support team.

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