Oliver McGowan was an active, much-loved 18-year-old who relished playing football. He was autistic and had epilepsy. He died in 2016 after he was prescribed an anti-psychotic drug during a seizure, against his and his parents’ wishes.
Oliver's death is sadly not unique. We know lots of autistic people and people with learning disabilities face health inequalities and die younger than they would if they were better understood and supported.
Oliver's parents campaigned tirelessly following his death to increase understanding among health care staff of the way in which autistic people and/or people with a learning disability can be supported and understood.
Oliver’s legacy is the Oliver McGowan Learning Disability and Autism Training. It is now mandatory for NHS and care staff to have training in learning disabilities and autism, and the government's preferred method is the Oliver McGowan Training.
Developing the training
MacIntyre were proud to be involved as training partners from the early days of the training trials.
Vicky Smith, Autism Self-Advocate, worked alongside a member of our Best Practice team to develop and trial materials. Vicky says:
The Oliver McGowan training is very important and people with Autism are all very different, they need to be listened to, as do their families who know them best.
Almost 100 MacIntyre staff took part in the trial training, alongside staff from other organisations.
What we’re doing now
MacIntyre already had significant training expertise and other resources on learning disability and autism. Now we are excited to be part of rolling out the Oliver McGowan training programme.
We also want our staff to know what training NHS colleagues have had to help them work together as well as possible to meet people’s health needs.
Our approach to co-training
From the start we knew it was vital to include people with lived experience as co-trainers.
One of our Best Practice Managers, Nicola Payne, attended the first Lead Train the Trainer course and we are now recruiting Facilitating Trainers and Co-Trainers. People can write, film or sound record their application.
We know everyone will need a different level of support to become co-trainers, which we will provide together. We are ambitious that all our co-trainers have the chance to work towards co-delivering the whole course and not just the minimum half an hour.
Hearing from people who have experienced good and bad support makes all the difference in this training – it did with Vicky during the trials.
This training is a great stepping-stone towards autism understanding and acceptance and overcoming barriers to equal access to healthcare and other support.