Home | HR Pulse Daily » News » The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism Training Program Has Begun

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism Training Program Has Begun

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Learning Disability and Autism Training Program Has Begun
The training is named after Oliver McGowan, who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic drugs by hospital staff, despite warning they were unsuitable for him.

The training is named after Oliver McGowan, who died in 2016 after being given antipsychotic drugs by hospital staff, despite warning they were unsuitable for him, highlighting a lack of understanding of the needs of people with a learning disability or autistic people.

Oliver’s mother Paula McGowan successfully launched a campaign to make training on caring for people with a learning disability and autistic people mandatory for all health and care staff.

‘I truly believe we are on the right trajectory’

Ms McGowan 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.”

Oliver McGowan had mild autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties after getting meningitis at three weeks old.

When he was 18, Oliver was admitted to Southmead Hospital on 22 October 2016 after suffering a seizure and despite protests from his parents, he was prescribed Olanzapine on 25 October to manage any potential psychosis.

Oliver’s temperature rose after being given the drug and he showed signs of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) – a rare side effect.

He died in intensive care on 11 November after a rare side effect caused his brain to swell.

At his inquest, in 2018, his parents said they had repeatedly insisted he should not be given the drug because he had reacted badly to it in the past and because he did not have a mental health diagnosis.

The coroner ruled the medication was appropriately prescribed but concluded Olanzapine had caused Oliver to suffer from NMS, and was a major contributory factor in his death.

‘Making Oliver’s training mandatory will ensure the skills and expertise needed’

In May this year, The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism was signed into law with royal assent as part of the Government’s Health and Social Care Act. This followed Baroness Sheila Hollins tabling a successful amendment to the Bill, which was accepted by the government.

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 now ready to be accessed following a two-year trial which involved 8,300 health and care staff across England.

Mark Radford, chief nurse at Health Education England and deputy chief nursing officer (England) said: “Following the tragedy of Oliver’s death, Paula McGowan has tirelessly campaigned to ensure all health and care staff receive this critical training. Paula and many others have helped with the development of the training from the beginning.

“Making Oliver’s training mandatory will ensure the skills and expertise needed to provide the best care for people with a learning disability and autistic people is available right across health and care.”

‘This training package means people are equipped and feel confident’

The training comes in two tiers and is designed so staff receive the right level of mandatory training.

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 elearning 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 learning disability and autistic people employment opportunities as part of the delivery team.

Oonagh Smyth, chief executive of Skills for Care, said: “The launch of the elearning package for the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is an important development.

“We have been working collaboratively with partners to ensure this training package means people are equipped and feel confident in supporting people with a learning disability and autistic people.”

The first part, the elearning package, is required for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training and is now live.

About the author

Rajesh Tamada