Autism and LD training creates positive change

June 1, 2022

A trial of learning disability and autism training has had a positive impact on health and care staff’s knowledge, skills and confidence.

The new training is named after Oliver McGowan, who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic drugs by hospital staff, despite protests from himself and his parents. On Thursday 28th April, The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism passed into law as part of the Health and Care Act 2022, following strong support by the Government to legislate for mandatory training across the health and care sectors.

In 2019, the Government committed to develop and test a standardised training package on learning disability and autism, which is being co-ordinated by Health Education England and Skills for Care. The training has since been trialled in different ways and was delivered to more than 8300 health and care staff across England.

The Health and Care Act 2022 has now created a requirement for CQC-registered service providers to ensure their employees receive learning disability and autism training appropriate to their role.

The results of the trial were shared at the fifth and final stakeholder forum for the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism, held online.

In a follow-up survey most people reported having made changes to their behaviour when supporting someone autistic or with a learning disability since their training (61-88%). These changes could include giving double appointments so that people with learning disabilities or autism are not rushed, moving to a quieter room, or simply giving someone more space.

Between 80% and 94% of people who did the tier-two training agreed or strongly agreed that it had given them new information about learning disabilities, made them more aware of the needs in healthcare settings of people with a learning disability and autistic people, and given them new ideas for things to do to better support people with learning disabilities and autistic people in their own work.

Chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, attended the forum and welcomed the opportunity that the mandatory training would offer to nurses and other healthcare professionals to improve the outcomes of people with learning disabilities or autism.

She described the development of the Oliver McGowan Training as a “huge step” and added that it would help staff avoid further preventable deaths, like that of Oliver McGowan.

Moreover, in their follow-up survey, 27-43% of those working in roles where they could make changes to how things are done in their workplace reported doing so following their tier two training.

His mother, Paula, launched a successful campaign to make training on caring for people with a learning disability and autistic people mandatory for all health and care staff, designed to help health and care staff understand unconscious bias against people with learning disabilities and autism and give them better care. She said that the training must “change the culture”.

Paula McGowan, who was presented with an OBE by the Duke of Cambridge earlier this month, said, ‘The standout comments for me were staff saying that they would change their practises going forward, to hear staff reflect on how they felt empowered to advocate better for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.’

The training was co-designed, delivered and evaluated alongside people with learning disabilities, autistic people and those with lived experience. The report on the training trials will be used by the Department of Health and Social Care to prepare for a wider rollout of the training to all health and care staff.

A summary of the key findings from the trial was presented at an online event, which gave an update on the programme’s progress. Visit the NDTI training website to view the evaluation in more detail.

In other news, a new report from the County Councils Network (CCN) and Newton examines the cost of Government’s flagship adult social care reforms.


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