USW informed Learning Disability training rolled out nationally


A new learning disability educational framework, created by University of South Wales (USW) researchers, has formed the basis of mandatory training for all NHS Wales staff in a public-facing role. The aim is to promote improved access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities.

Announced by Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan, the first phase of the Paul Ridd Learning Disability Awareness Training Programme for healthcare staff will start on 1 April 2022.  It will be a key driver in ‘reducing health inequalities for people with a learning disability’ and is a key outcome within the Welsh Government’s 2018 Learning Disability Improving Lives programme.  This first phase, championed by the Paul Ridd Foundation and Mencap Cymru has been a collaboration between Improvement Cymru, the Welsh Government, the Paul Ridd Foundation, people with a learning disability, the University of South Wales, health services, and the third sector.

A recurring issue in the literature surrounding such inequalities is that health staff often report feeling they lack the knowledge and skills to identify and meet the health needs of people with learning disabilities. 

Improvement Cymru therefore commissioned USW’s Unit for Development in Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities to develop a competency framework to set out the values, knowledge and skills required by health staff when supporting people with learning disabilities in relation to their health. This mandatory training enables staff to achieve the foundation level within the framework.

The aim of the training is to improve knowledge and raise awareness of the issues that people with a learning disability face when accessing healthcare services by enabling healthcare staff and providers to understand the specific needs of the individual and to make reasonable adjustments that will meet those needs.

Professor Ruth Northway OBE, Professor of Learning Disability Nursing at USW, said: “The research team here at USW feel privileged to have had the opportunity to develop the educational framework. Seeing this work now progress to inform training that will enhance healthcare for people with learning disabilities is a very positive development and we look forward to continued working with partners to further advance this work.”

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, said: “Everyone has the right to access health care services and it’s important as a government we ensure that no one faces any obstacles that, with a little thought and planning, can be removed. I am pleased to make this announcement today and I am grateful to The Paul Ridd foundation for their ongoing work in raising awareness of the barriers sometimes faced by people with learning disabilities when they try to access services. I also want to pay tribute to NHS Wales staff who provide vital care and who will now undertake this training to further support people with learning disabilities.  I intend to explore options for rolling out this important training to social care staff across Wales.”

Jonathan Ridd and Jayne Nicholls, founders and trustees of the Paul Ridd Foundation, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the NHS in Wales and Welsh Government to have produced this Learning Disability Awareness Training. Since Paul's death in 2009, we have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the inequalities faced by people with a learning disability when accessing healthcare. This training is a key milestone for us to have reached, as now healthcare staff in a public-facing role within the NHS in Wales will have to do the Paul Ridd Learning Disability Awareness Training.

“This resource will give staff some awareness of the barriers faced by people with a learning disability when accessing healthcare and will provide the tools to remove these barriers. We look forward to this training being further developed and expanded with the second and third tiers."

See more research from the Unit for Development in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities