Learning disability awareness training to be delivered to all health and social care staff

Learning disability awareness training to be delivered to all health and social care staff

by Danielle Thompson (July 2020)

ALL health and social care staff in Lancashire will receive training from health professionals working with people with learning disability and their families in a bid to ensure better healthcare for people who have autism or a learning disability.

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust will deliver the training, in conjunction with the Pathways Associates charity, across all health and social care settings.

The project will be delivered over the next 12 months and is known as Oliver McGowan training. Oliver lived with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and learning disability and died in 2016 aged 18. His mother Paula has dedicated her life to campaigning for better health care for people who have autism and learning disability.

All training will be produced in collaboration with self-advocates and families and then co-delivered to frontline staff in all appropriate settings across Lancashire and South Cumbria, including hospitals and care homes. It is estimated that around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability including 351,000 children.

In 2019, the government set out their commitment to mandatory training in their consultation response in 'Right to be heard’. This was in response to recommendations made in the second annual Learning Disabilities Mortality Review report.

Stuart Sheridan, who is the Learning Disability and Autism Transformation Lead at the trust said: “A learning disability can affect the way a person understands information and how they communicate, so it’s really important people working in a health and social care have a greater understanding of this so they can provide the very best care and support.

“We wanted to make this training as impactful as possible, so we’re delighted to be working with self-advocates, family members and Pathways Associates to develop it. It has the potential to a have a big impact on improving the experience that people with learning disabilities have when they are receiving healthcare and by doing so reduce health inequalities that someone with a learning disability might face.”

The trust is one of 56 organisations across the country to be asked to develop and deliver Oliver McGowan training. Oliver’s death highlighted the need for health and social care staff to have a greater understanding of learning disabilities to help improve their skills and confidence when delivering care.

Oliver’s mum Paula McGowan, who grew up in the North West, led a campaign for more training and explained: “Oliver’s death could have been avoided and better training for healthcare staff might have made all the difference.

“I am extremely pleased to see that the new training is now coming closer to being a reality. I am proud that it will carry Oliver’s name.”

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