Last week, The Disability Partnership (Sense, Mencap, Scope, and the National Autistic Society) hosted the last Meaningful Participation for Disabled People Event in partnership with NHS England. The events have been successful in not only highlighting the importance of involving disabled people in health and social care policy, but also enabling a space in which to do this. This time, it was held in Liverpool with involvement from NHS England’s Learning Disabilities Engagement Team.
We were delighted that Paul James from The County Durham Learning Disabilities Parliament could open the event. Having Lowes Syndrome, Paul described his experience of healthcare, highlighting barriers to involvement as well as useful solutions for healthcare providers and suggestions for disabled people. With extensive professional experience of creating meaningful participation for people with learning disabilities, as well as raising awareness through his website and twitter account ‘Living with Lowes’, Paul opened the event with a powerful example of what impact successful involvement can have.
A few clear themes ran through the day:
Accessibility is fundamental to any meaningful participation. The morning session included an introduction to some handy ‘communication cards’, an excellent resource providing tips for communication with people who have learning difficulties. These cards were produced by the NHS LD Engagement Team who later ran a workshop on inclusive and accessible meetings.
By the end of July 2016, The Accessible Information Standard must be fully implemented across health and adult social care. We wanted to make sure people know what they are entitled to and providers to know how they can implement it effectively. CHANGE ran a workshop providing five main steps for implementation and discussing what good communication really means for disabled people. Mencap also ran a workshop on accessible pharmacies.
Understanding Your Rights was another subject covered through the day. It has now almost been one year since The Care Act, a significant piece of social care legislation, came into force. The National Autistic Society’s workshop explained people’s rights to assessments, eligibility for support, the new transition assessments and carers’ assessments.
Sense’s workshop on employment gave information on the law to make clear what employers should be doing to ensure disabled people can do their job. It also covered support disabled people can be entitled to from the government when looking for work and when they have found a job.
Scope ran a great workshop on how to build a successful campaign. This covered different approaches to research and which tactics are best for communicating your evidence.
Healthy Lifestyles were discussed by People First Merseyside in a fun interactive session. They are an organisation for people with learning disabilities, managed by people with learning disabilities.
In addition, People First Keighley and Craven, discussed their holiday programme. This looked at physical health, mental health and wellbeing.
After another truly informative event, we are looking forward to following up with attendees about what they are doing differently. Look out for updates, including a highlights video on Sense’s website.