New Project Will Train People To Recognise Signs of Illness Earlier

Staff at Thera have been selected to work on the NHS England and NHS Improvement Learning Disability Programme RESTORE2 Mini Project, which will train people to recognise signs of illness in people with a learning disability earlier.

The purpose of the project is to educate non-medical support workers and carers across the sector to recognise the early signs that someone with a learning disability, may becoming unwell. The aim will be achieved through training a new team of experts to deliver the relevant training, as well as creating training videos. These resources will be rolled out in March 2021 to support people with a learning disability always to the right treatment, at the right time!

Andrew Bright, Head of Development for Thera Trust, was selected as Chair of the Task and Finish Group. Andrew brings to this role his extensive professional experience in advocacy and quality monitoring alongside his lived experience of learning disability. He said of the experience:

“It’s been an honour to lead on this piece of work in my role as Head of Development alongside Lorna Weston (Managing Director) to involve Thera’s Service Quality Directors Ian and Oliver in bringing their real lived experience into the work of RESTORE2 Mini has been wonderful. This has made a difference in the direction of the work including language, moving away somewhat from the medical terminology used. The success of this work will be in the lives it will help to save by recognising those early signs of someone being unwell.”

The health and wellbeing of people with a learning disability has become ever more important given the COVID-19 pandemic and also the impact of the restrictions imposed on peoples day-to-day lives and relationships. The collaboration between this Task and Finish Group and NHS England & Improvement will assist in ensuring people with a learning disability live longer, healthier lives.

Other Thera team members formed part of the Task and Finish Group assisting the NHS with the creation of various training resources. These included two of Thera’s Service Quality Directors – executive director posts held by people with a lived experience of learning disability. Each director is supported in their role by an Executive Assistant.

Ian Harper, Service Quality Director, supported by Barbara Browne influenced the terminology used on training videos. This was to ensure that the language used was as accessible as possible.

Ian explained: “I have influenced the choice of language that has been used in the training videos to make sure that medical terminology is reduced and straightforward language is used. A phrase that I recommended will be added at the end of every video – ‘If you are worried about someone, don’t just think about it, get advice!’ This relates to training videos to recognise the signs when someone maybe unwell”.

Oliver Smith, Service Quality Director supported by Jay Patel, also helped with shaping language used to support the best possible delivery of training and said:

“I have been involved with the evaluation sub-group of the RESTORE2 mini project and my input was to provide guidance to the other professionals to incorporate more inclusive language. Working with the NHS was a new experience for me, and I felt very proud that my input would positively affect people with a learning disability across the country. Being able to represent Thera in these meetings was incredibly rewarding.”