MORE than a million health and care workers have now completed a training programme named in memory of an Emersons Green teenager.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism was launched last year following a long campaign and a successful two-year trial.
Oliver, who was 18 and had a mild learning disability and high-functioning autism, was taken to hospital after suffering a partial seizure in October 2016.
He was given antipsychotic medication, despite both Oliver and his parents telling staff he had previously had an adverse reaction.
The drug caused his brain to swell, causing irreparable damage, and his life support was turned off days later, after doctors told the family there was no hope of recovery.
After Oliver’s death his parents, Paula and Thomas, campaigned to change the way NHS staff communicate with people with learning disabilities.
The learning programme is the result of their work, and is designed to help health and care staff understand how to work with and meet the needs of people with a learning disability or autism.
The milestone millionth e-learning course was completed shortly before the seventh anniversary of Oliver’s death on November 11.
The e-learning is the first part of Oliver’s training and prepares staff for a second part that involves meeting and learning directly from people with a learning disability and autistic people.
From the beginning, expertise from people with a learning disability or autism, as well as their families and carers, have helped develop the training.
Last year’s Health and Care Act introduced a requirement that registered health and care providers must ensure their staff receive appropriate training on learning disability and autism.
The programme has been developed by NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and Skills for Care.
Paula, who was made an OBE for her campaign, said: “I am pleased that over a million people have a much better understanding of people who have a learning disability and autistic people.
“It is a significant milestone to have so many people now completing part one of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training, meaning that our learning disability and autism communities will have much better experiences living in society and accessing health and care.
“I know that if Oliver was here, he would be incredibly proud.”
NHS England national director for learning disability and autism Tom Cahill said: “This is an incredible achievement by all NHS staff and will make a significant contribution to improving the care and support of autistic people and people with a learning disability across NHS services.”
Health minister Maria Caulfield said: “Thanks to the tireless work of our NHS staff and people like Paula we are moving towards a healthcare system with the right culture, knowledge and skills to support people with a learning disability and autistic people.”