In the Health and Care Act 2022, the government identified the need for all staff in Health and Social Care sectors to have training on Learning Disabilities and Autism.
Oliver McGowan's legacy
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 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.
The result is the Oliver McGowan training.
The Oliver McGowan training
MacIntyre was part of the pilot training, and at the start of 2023, when the course was finally released, we were able to start the process ready to deliver training. In February 2023 Nicola Payne attended one of the lead trainer courses.
In April 2023, the first facilitator training course was held with a range of people to support the North and the South areas.
It was always essential for us that people with lived experience should be central to delivering the training.
Recruitment for co-trainers took place during the Spring and our first meeting occurred in June 2023, where all co-trainers had the opportunity to meet each other, learn about Oliver’s story and what the role of a co-trainer would involve. They had time to think about if this is what they wanted to do and the consensus was a definite ‘yes’!
Understanding what training would mean
The training talks a lot about reasonable adjustments, so we determined with everyone what adjustments and levels of support they would need on their journey. Everything we discussed was followed up in writing through easy read letters
Training then started over a period of four days between June and July 2023, allowing for time in between to digest the learning and ask questions where needed.
Our co-trainers learnt the same topics that staff will learn, such as what is a learning disability, what is autism, the impact of unconscious bias, support of reasonable adjustments, legislation and more. There was a lot to learn but everyone did an incredible job at making sense of it and getting involved.
Co-trainers were all supported to write their own one-page profiles that they could share on training if they wanted. They also had opportunities to go through and make their own notes on what they would want to say and share on training.
Some of our co-trainers have never done public speaking before and this has helped them achieve this goal, learn new information and new skills.
All the co-trainers have commented on the importance of earning a salary and be recognised, connected and valued for their work.
We've seen people's confidence in themselves increase and their willingness to share their experiences to help the learning of others has been remarkable
From strength to strength
The training is in full-swing now with multiple dates scheduled.
Fantastic training yesterday, delivered by Sonya, Stuart and Jess. Very emotive and thought provoking. Let's hope many, many more health and social care professionals are trained to understand the needs of people with a learning disability. Death can be hard to comprehend but when it is completely avoidable, that is so different...
We've had some great feedback. Co-trainers especially have been praised for training they have delivered, and how it brings everything to life.