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The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism

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.


To help with the development, the training has been developed in partnership with Health Education England, Department for Health and Social Care, Skills for Care and NHS England, and is available for staff across the health and care sector to access.


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 people with autism. Oliver’s mother Paula successfully launched a campaign to make training on caring for people with a learning disability and people with autism 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 people with autism 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 that 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 challenge their preconceptions of autism and learning disabilities.


Greater knowledge of learning disabilities 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 people with autism 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 receives training on learning disabilities and autism that is appropriate to their role.


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 e-learning 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 e-learning 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 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.


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.’


Oonagh Smyth, Chief Executive of Skills for Care, said,

‘The launch of the e-learning 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.’


Visit the e-learning for healthcare website to view the training and for further information, please click here.



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