Providing Specialist Communication Support – Learning Disability Week 2020Portia Chauhan
Learning Disability Week 2020, led. by Mencap – the voice of learning disability, just like all other aspects of health and social care, has been altered by the effects of the current coronavirus pandemic.
This year, Mencap have chosen important aspect of the lockdown which has been a vital lifeline for many as the theme of the week – friendship during lockdown. Being able to successfully continue communication throughout the lockdown is a testament to the wonders of modern technology, and our remote interpreting services have been essential in ensuring continued support is provided to people with learning difficulties who require spoken and visual communication support.
Giving Us a Voice
The Giving us a Voice project (GUAV) enabled people with learning disabilities, their families, and their carers from BAME communities to be given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with local policy makers to explain what they need and expect from support services.
An important part in this dialogue was, and still is, providing interpreters so no individual is left feeling marginalised from the help they need.
Communication support has never been so vital than during a pandemic that forces us to be apart from those who we would usually turn to for help.
The essential support that clinicians and care givers provide to individuals with learning disabilities and their families hasn’t been put on pause, it’s transformed to meet the requirements of this strange new time.
Our telephone interpreting service, and remote video interpreting service, have both been used effectively to carry out appointments and well-being checks throughout the pandemic.
• Both service users and clinicians are protected from the virus as social distancing is adhered to.
• 24/7 unlimited access means service users can access professionals in the event of a person crisis.
• Video interpreting provides visual cues and comfort for service users.
• Most importantly, communication is enabled between non-English speaking service users and professionals and preserves relationships.
An integral part of the friendship theme of this year’s Learning Disability week is the support network of the families of individuals with learning difficulties. Sarah Brown, a children’s speech and language therapist from Birmingham Community Healthcare, recently praised the use of our remote interpreting services, saying the service;
“Runs very well, I have experienced no problems and all the interpreters seem to be very helpful. I have no complaints…and I would definitely recommend [the service] to my colleagues”.
Friendship and family go hand in hand, and the support that clinicians like Sarah offer to families of those with learning disabilities is key in providing continued support to those who need it.
Learning Disability Week 2020 has given us all the opportunity to celebrate those effected by learning disabilities and recognise the importance of friendships and family during the lockdown.