By Joshua Robinson –
Over one million people have completed The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism’s e-learning in the year since it was launched.
The training enables health and care staff to better support people with learning disabilities and autistic people, with an understanding of how to work with them to meet their needs.
The milestone comes ahead of the seventh anniversary of Oliver McGowan’s death on 11 November 11. Oliver died after being given antipsychotic medication, despite warnings that they were unsuitable for him. Highlighting a lack of understanding of the needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people.
Oliver’s mother Paula successfully campaigned to make training on caring for people with a learning disability and autistic people mandatory for all health and care staff.
The e-learning is the first part of Oliver’s training and prepares staff for a second part that involves meeting and learning directly from people with learning disability and autistic people.
The programme comes in two tiers and is designed so staff receives the right level of training. Tier 1 has been designed for staff who require general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need. Tier 2 is for those who may need to provide care and make more complex care decisions.
The first part of the training, the 90-minute e-learning package, was launched last November and has now passed one million completions.
As well as the e-learning, interactive online sessions for Tier 1 and face-to-face sessions for Tier 2 are also being rolled out across England. Both parts of the training must be completed to finish the programme.
The training programme has been co-developed from the beginning with experts, as well as their families and carers.
It follows a two-year trial which involved 8,300 health and care staff across England. Participants found there has been an increase in their knowledge, skills, and communication with autistic people and people with a learning disability after completing the training.
The Health and Care Act 2022 introduced a requirement that CQC-registered service providers must ensure their staff receive training that is appropriate to their role.
Oliver’s Training also supports the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan ambition by upskilling the wider health and care workforce to provide appropriately adjusted care for people with a learning disability and autistic people to reduce health inequality.
The programme has been developed in partnership with NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care, and Skills for Care.
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Other examples of the NHS’s commitment to improving health outcomes for people with a learning disability and autistic people include improving assessments, enhanced autism training for psychiatrists, and investment in community services so people can receive support close to home.
The e-learning has also been made available to international audiences via the eIntegrity platform following requests from across the world.
Navina Evans, Chief Workforce, Training and Education Officer at NHS England, said: “To reach one million completions of this vital training is a fantastic achievement – but it is important to remind ourselves that this is only the first step in an important large-scale intervention to address health inequalities for people with a learning disability and autistic people.”
“The training is a vital element of an ongoing culture change to ensure our services are safe, accessible, and adjusted to people’s needs.
“We are therefore urging employers across health and care to ensure staff get the training appropriate to their role – to make an impact now and for future generations.”
Paula McGowan OBE:
Paula McGowan OBE said: “I am pleased that over a million people have a much better understanding of people who have a learning disability and autistic people.”
“It is a significant milestone to have so many people now completing part one of The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, meaning that our learning disability and autism communities will have much better experiences living in society and accessing health and care.”
“I know that if Oliver was here, he would be incredibly proud.”
Tom Cahill, National Director for Learning Disability and Autism at NHS England, said: “This is an incredible achievement by all NHS staff and will make a significant contribution to improving the care and support of autistic people and people with a learning disability across NHS services.”
Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: “It’s incredible that more than one million people have now taken this essential training – and I am delighted to be one of them.”
“Thanks to the tireless work of our NHS staff and people like Paula we are moving towards a healthcare system with the right culture, knowledge and skills to support people with a learning disability and autistic people.”
“I am committed to improving the care we offer, and encourage both employers and employees to complete this vital training.”