The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism to assist health and care staff caring and supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people has been launched following a long campaign.
The training is named after Oliver McGowan, who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic medication, despite warning that they were unsuitable for him, highlighting a lack of understanding of the needs of people with a learning disability or autistic people. Oliver’s mother Paula successfully launched a campaign to make training on caring for people with a learning disability and autistic people mandatory for all health and care staff.
This innovative training has been developed from the beginning with expertise from people with a learning disability and autistic people as well as their families and carers.
The first part of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training is now ready to be accessed following 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 Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training will provide staff with the right information to make reasonable adjustments as well as challenging their preconceptions of autism and learning disabilities.
Greater knowledge of learning disability and autism will ensure that care and support can be better tailored to suit people’s needs and is expected to lead to better interactions and outcomes and fewer incidents of inequality and avoidable deaths for people with a learning disability and autistic people when they need to receive care.
The Health and Care Act 2022 introduced a requirement that regulated CQC registered service providers must ensure their staff receive training on learning disability and autism that is appropriate to their role.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, which has been developed in partnership with Health Education England, Department for Health and Social Care, Skills for Care and NHS England, is ready for staff across the health and care sector to access today.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training comes in two tiers and is designed so staff receive the right level of mandatory training.
The first part, the elearning package, is required for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training and is now live.
Tier 1 has been designed for staff who need general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need, while tier two is for people who may need to provide care and support for autistic people or people with a learning disability.
All staff will complete the one hour and 30-minute elearning package, which includes learning from autistic people and people with a learning disability, their carers, family members and subject matter experts.
Those completing Tier 1 will then be required to take part in a 60-minute online interactive session, while those completing Tier 2 will be required to attend a one-day face-to-face training session co-delivered by trainers who have a lived experience with learning disability and autism.
These sessions are expected to be available from early 2023 and have been designed to offer people with a learning disability and autistic people employment opportunities as part of the delivery team.
Mark Radford, Chief Nurse at Health Education England and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer (England) said: “The introduction of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning and Disability is a vital step forward in ensuring that people with a learning disability and autistic people receive the right levels of care that are appropriate for their needs.
“Following the tragedy of Oliver’s death, Paula McGowan has tirelessly campaigned to ensure that Oliver’s legacy is that all health and care staff receive this critical training. Paula and many others have helped with the development of the training from the beginning.
“Making Oliver’s training mandatory will ensure that the skills and expertise needed to provide the best care for people with a learning disability and autistic people is available right across health and care.”
Paula McGowan OBE said: “I take comfort in knowing that the death of my teenage son Oliver has resulted in a positive change as a direct consequence, something which will resonate with many and is deeply meaningful to me.
“I have been humbled to observe all health and care colleagues working collaboratively to strive for this change. There is more work to be done, but the journey has now started, and I truly believe we are on the right trajectory to achieve better health and care outcomes for neurodivergent people.”
Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “Thanks to the campaigning and determination of Paula McGowan, from today health and social care staff will begin to have access to The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to better meet the care and support needs of people with a learning disability and autistic people.
“What happened to Oliver was a tragedy – this training is a vital next step to address existing health inequalities for autistic people and people with a learning disability, providing them with the right care and support in health and care settings.”
Tom Cahill, NHS director of learning disability and autism, said: “The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training provides a real opportunity to ensure staff working across the NHS have a greater understanding of the needs of autistic people and people with a learning disability and are able to make the necessary reasonable adjustments that support patients and ensure they receive the best care possible.”
Oonagh Smyth, Chief Executive of Skills for Care, said: “The launch of the elearning package for the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is an important development in helping people access essential training and help reduce inequalities for people with learning disability and autistic people. We have been working collaboratively with partners to ensure that this training package means people who work in health and social care are equipped and feel confident in supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people.
Simon Gregory, Medical Director for Primary and Integrated Care at Health Education England, said: We know that health outcomes and life-expectancy are worse for people with a learning disability and this is a serious concern for us. GPs and General Practice teams all have a responsibility to support people with a learning disability and autistic people. The Oliver McGowan training is an excellent resource to help us give great, equitable care.