A government consultation on learning disability and autism training for healthcare staff has been launched, seeking views on a new code of practice.
The consultation invites individuals and groups to provide views on a draft for the Oliver McGowan Code of Practice on statutory learning disability and autism training, which sets out standards for a new legal training requirement.
Published this week, the draft code outlines the standards that training on learning and disabilities must meet in order to comply with legislation from the Health and Care Act 2022.
Under this piece of legislation, all service providers regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) must ensure that their staff receive training on learning disability and autism ‘appropriate to their role’.
The code of practice sets four standards that training delivered to health and social care must legally meet. This includes stipulations that staff must receive training co-produced and co-delivered by autistic people and people with a learning disability.
While the governmental code of practice is not itself mandatory, a provider would need to give good reason why they have departed from it and ‘be able to demonstrate that it meets the requirement in a different way’.
Tom Cahill, national director for learning disability and autism at NHS England, described the publication of the code of practice as a ‘significant step towards improving awareness, knowledge and skills of all health and care staff’.
Mr Cahil added: ‘The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism will ensure that people with a learning disability and autistic people receive the right levels of care and support that meet their individual needs.’
The Oliver McGowan training itself was launched in November 2022 and comes in two tiers: Tier 1 for staff who need a general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need, and Tier 2 for those 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 eLearning package, which is now available. This 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 a lived experience with learning disability and autism.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism standards
Standard one – All staff receive training covering a ‘minimum curriculum of capabilities from the ‘Core capabilities framework for supporting people with a learning disability’ and the ‘Core capabilities framework for supporting autistic people’.
Standard two – All staff receive training that enables them to explore how they will put their learning into practice.
Standard three – All staff receive a minimum amount of live and interactive training that is co-produced and co-delivered by people with a learning disability and autistic people.
Standard four – All staff receive training that is based on evidence and is quality-assured through trialling, ongoing evaluation and accreditation.
The training is named after Oliver McGowan, a young autistic teenager with a mild learning disability who died after having a severe reaction to medication given to him against his and his family’s wishes.
Since his death, Oliver’s parents, Paula and Tom McGowan (pictured), have campaigned for better training for health and care staff to improve understanding of the needs of people with a learning disability or autistic people.
In her introduction to the draft Code of Practice, Ms McGowan said that the response to the training so far has been ‘outstanding’, adding that many attendees have said ‘it has empowered them to change their practices’.
Minister of state for health Maria Caulfield said: ‘We want as many people as possible to contribute to this consultation so that we can continue working towards a society where everyone knows their needs will be met when they walk into a hospital or care setting.’