“We hope other areas in England will take note of this and introduce similar schemes, so they can start meeting their legal duties on autism.” - Policy Manager at the National Autistic Society
People with learning disabilities and autism are delivering new training that helps staff understand individual’s needs for support and service adjustments when using health and social care services in North West London.
The training is produced and delivered by people with learning disabilities and autism so provides real, lived experiences of the struggles that some individuals face when trying to access and receive care. The aim of the training is to provide some simple do’s and don’ts for staff and prevent people from being perceived as challenging, when in fact their needs are not being understood and catered for. It is hoped that this will improve the experience of hospital and social care services for people with learning disabilities and autism across North West London.
The training, supported by the National Autistic Society is provided by Certitude and called Treat Me Right! It provides staff with a valuable insight into the lives of people with a learning disability or autism. It highlights the inequalities some people face when using health and social care services and explains how to be more flexible and provide care that is focused on the needs of each individual that enters their service.
- Improved experience of hospital and social care services for people with learning disabilities and autism, their family and carers
- reduced number of hospital admissions as staff have more knowledge to direct people with these conditions to the most appropriate services
John Keaveny, a Treat Me Right! trainer said: “I have had Down’s syndrome all my life and I haven’t always been treated well. One time a nurse tried to take blood from me and didn’t explain what she was doing. I told her to explain it to me with pictures which really helped me understand what was happening. I use this example when I am training staff in hospitals.
“I love telling people my story and experience of healthcare. I would like to get more people involved. I love it when people tell me I’m a good trainer and that I have changed the way they think and the way they work. It means so much to me.”
As part of World Autism Awareness Week the NHS in North West London celebrate our staff being more able to understand the specific support needs of people with learning disabilities and autism and make the necessary adjustments to services.
This week gives people in the UK the opportunity to take part in activities to raise money and awareness for The National Autistic Society, which has welcomed the training. Tim Nicholls, Policy Manager at the National Autistic Society, said: "This is welcome news, which has the potential to make a real difference to local autistic people and their families.
“Many autistic people find it hard to access appropriate health and social care support, and struggle with poor mental and physical health as a result. The first step to addressing this is making sure that staff understand autism and know what reasonable adjustments can help autistic people. It’s often the smallest changes that make the biggest difference, like speaking more clearly, ensuring the person knows what to expect or taking extra care to make sure the appointment starts right on time.
“We hope other areas in England will take note of this and introduce similar schemes, so they can start meeting their legal duties on autism.”
Training sessions are tailored to the specific staff groups and so far 800 frontline health and social care staff have been trained across North West London. This includes staff from accident and emergency departments, mental health teams and the London Ambulance Service. Another 200 staff are being trained in the coming months.
Feedback has been very positive and, a learning disability champion for the Royal Brompton Hospital said: “This training is helping us to provide a better experience for our patients with learning disabilities and autism and ensures that they receive the same quality of care as everyone else.”