Oliver McGowan mandatory learning disability and autism training

We’re marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week with information on how we are rolling out this new training to all team members in England.

The mandatory Oliver McGowan learning disability and autism training officially launched nationwide in November 2022.

It is named after a 16-year autistic old boy whose preventable death in 2016 highlighted the need for health and social care staff to have better training. Oliver’s mother Paula campaigned for this outcome and features in the training, speaking about the circumstances of his treatment.

Paula recently spoke to Autism Eye, stating she was devastated over the death of another autistic child, 11-year old Mattheus Vieira, who died in April 2022. The inquest into Mattheus took place recently and the Coroner’s Court heard that sections of his notes described him as ‘uncooperative and difficult’.

New legal requirement

Although Achieve together already had robust learning disability and autism training in place for team members, it has chosen to adopt the Oliver McGowan mandatory training. People with a learning disability and autistic people have been involved throughout its development, trial and evaluation, ensuring consideration of personal experiences.

It is also the government’s recommended training package to support providers to meet the new legal requirement for learning disability and autism training and tackling growing health inequalities. This requirement is set out in the Health and Care Act 2022.

What does the training entail?

The training consists of two tiers, each of two parts.

  • Tier 1 – for people who require general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need
  • Tier 2 – for people providing direct care and support for autistic people or people with a learning disability

Understandably, there has been enormous demand to access the training from both health and social care providers across England (it is not a requirement in Wales).

Part 1 of both tiers is an e-learning module. Rather than using an external provider, we have incorporated this within our e-learning platform. More than 60% of our team members have already completed it since it became available in January this year.

Interactive sessions

Co-production and co-delivery are at the heart of the training, which aligns well with our own priorities. However, this comes with challenges! Part 2 training will be co-delivered by experts by experience and a subject matter expert facilitator. Tier 1 team members must complete a 1 hour online interactive session and Tier 2 team members must complete a day of face-to-face training.

We are currently awaiting external training of our in-house lead trainer who will, in turn, be able to train accredited in-house facilitators. All co-presenters who are experts by experience will be people we support, both autistic people and people with a learning disability. They will also receive training for their roles. We are still identifying these 50 people to ensure we have good geographical coverage.

The pilot interactive face-to face sessions are planned for May with around 15 people attending each one for maximum impact and engagement. It’s likely to take around 2 years to complete the Part 2 training for our 6000+ team members.

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