A key appointment has been made by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to ensure that more Easy Read information is made available to service users with learning disabilities and / or autism.
Paul McCluskey, who starts today (Thursday, 9 August) in the new post of “Green Light Peer Support Worker”, is believed to be the first employee that NSFT has appointed who has learning disabilities and autism.
Paul, who is 47 and lives in Norwich, will also continue in his role as a volunteer for the Norfolk charity Opening Doors, a user-led organisation run by people with learning disabilities for people with learning disabilities which has offices in Norwich and Cromer.
“I am so happy to have been offered the post and hope that my honest, constructive and helpful input will be a real asset to the team,” he said.
“Being a volunteer with Opening Doors for the past six years has introduced me to Easy Read which I originally thought was just for children although, from much training and production of Easy Read material, I now understand differently and get much enjoyment from producing such material.
“In the last few years, I have also spoken about getting more recognition for my talents, skills and experience around Easy Read. I was passed an information pack about the NSFT post and I felt it was just what I was looking for and, as a strong believer in fate, it was meant to be.”
The “Green Light Toolkit” was published in 2013 by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) in order to improve the way that mental health services in England respond to people who also have learning disabilities and / or autism.
Sue Bridges, NSFT Professional Lead (Learning Disabilities / Autism), said Paul’s appointment was a significant factor in the Trust being shortlisted as one of just six finalists on 31 July in the “Best diversity and inclusion initiative” category of the Nursing Times Workforce Awards 2018. The winner will be announced on 4 October.
“We firmly believed that we should employ a person with a learning disability and autism within the Green Light Team to be a specialist advisor in a peer support worker role,” she said.
“Many of our service users who have learning disabilities and / or autism have poor literacy skills so it is essential that our organisation provides them with Easy Read information, such as for appointment letters, care plans and information leaflets.
“We already have an Easy Read group which includes about 10 volunteers with learning disabilities whose role is to ensure that information produced by our staff is appropriate for this group of service users.
“As well as leading this group, Paul will also train our staff on how to produce Easy Read information.”
In his volunteer role at Opening Doors, Paul, who has autism and a mild learning disability, is already involved in training the staff of care organisations in producing Easy Read information.
When it was agreed to create the Green Light Peer Support Worker post, NSFT staff and service users in the Trust’s Easy Read group worked together to produce an Easy Read application form and job description.
In June, NSFT was shortlisted in the Learning Disabilities Nursing category of the Nursing Times Awards 2018 for its Green Light Toolkit. The winners will be announced on 31 October.
Also in June, Sue was named as the overall winner of The Learning Disability Nurse Award category of The National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards 2018. In the same awards, NSFT was one of just six organisations shortlisted as a finalist in The Employer Award (Not for Profit) category for the high-quality care it provides to people with learning disabilities and / or autism.
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