Why we support Oliver’s legacy

by Shaji Rajamony

A petition calling for doctors and nurses to receive mandatory training in autism and learning disabilities is set to be debated by MPs. It originated following the death of an autistic teenager. Raj, our Specialism Implementer shares his thoughts on how the mandatory training could change the lives of many.

The petition, in honour of Oliver McGowan, would be a positive milestone for the care sector. It result in significant improvements in the care and support that people with autism and learning disabilities receive. Understanding the specific and detailed requirements autistic people and those with learning disabilities have – along with relevant support strategies – will be a great step in ensuring tragedies such as the case with Oliver McGowan can be prevented.

Understanding the impact

In the UK, over 700,000 people are autistic and over 1.5 million have a learning disability. The magnitude of people with these conditions makes it imperative that all healthcare professionals are adequately trained and have access to additional information as required to provide the very best care and support possible.

As a UK-leading care and support provider, we support individuals at their hospital appointments on a frequent basis. During hospital admissions, our support staff share as much of their specialist knowledge with hospital staff as they can. However, hectic hospital environments and extreme time pressures can result in the information not being fully absorbed or actioned through no fault of the excellent doctors and nurses involved.

A basic understanding of autism, learning disabilities and associated challenging behaviours would resolve many issues without any clinical or physical intervention. Such mandatory training could also increase effectiveness and reduce the duration of hospital appointments.

Rolling it out…

In my opinion, not only the nurses, doctors and care staff should be trained. The staff at the front desk, paramedics and ambulance staff should also receive basic training about these conditions. At Voyage Care, all staff, from finance to HR as well as our support workers receive training on autism and other conditions.

Police forces would also benefit from such training. This was recently demonstrated through an initiative in Nottinghamshire. Police recruits were sent to autism-specific care homes, which allowed them to see life from the perspective of an autistic person. Redcliffe House, one of our residential homes accredited by the National Autistic Society, was one of the homes chosen to support the successful initiative.

Treating every person as an individual

Every person is unique and has their own preferences. Making the effort to gain a basic understanding could improve, and potentially save the lives of people with autism and learning disabilities.