The Advocacy Project won a bronze award, a silver trophy and a prize of £250 at the Health’s Got Talent 2017. The event was organised by City, University of London’s School of Health Sciences to promote excellence in education and to celebrate the importance of service user involvement in teaching.
At the annual event we were invited to present one of the four service-user-led teaching videos we created with City University for speech and language therapy (SLT) students. Our video is about the communication barriers people with learning disabilities experience when accessing their GP. It stars Stephen Band (staff member with learning disabilities, The Advocacy Project) and Saboohi Bukhari (Head of Business Development, The Advocacy Project).
Teaching led by people with learning disabilities
Service users have been involved as visiting lecturers at City, University of London, since 2005. SLT students have been taught by people with learning disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication methods (AAC) such as Makaton, natural gestures, symbols, etc.
Dr Celia Harding, Senior Lecturer at the Division of Language & Communication Science, City University, said:
“Service users with learning disabilities often find accessing healthcare difficult, and their personal experiences can be important in helping to shape students understanding on capacity in relation to working with people who have different ways of communicating. Understanding how to engage with those who need and use AAC remains an important part of the curriculum for SLT students.”
The Advocacy Project has worked with the Division of Language & Communication Science to develop service user led teaching for SLT students. We support people with learning disabilities to teach SLT students about their work experience; living a healthy lifestyle; specific training opportunities for service users; being involved in interviewing support staff and everyday life experiences. The project has proved so successful that other teaching topics have been included in the curriculum: the Mental Capacity Act training consists of a direct teaching session about safety and healthcare for people with learning disabilities, where service users present and share their experiences – good and bad – of accessing healthcare services. This training session is led by a presenter with learning disabilities and Celia Harding. We also deliver multi-media presentations.
Stephen Band, one of The Advocacy Project’s staff delivering the training, said:
“I feel what I say is important and that makes me feel valued. I can help make things better so that me and other people with learning disabilities can access health services and get the care we need.”
Our teaching videos
We were asked to create and be involved in three teaching videos to be used as training material for the SLT students. Three visiting lecturers with learning disabilities we regularly work with – Stephen Band, Noureddine El Alaoui, and Seham Dahi – star in the short films together with Saboohi Bukhari. The videos were filmed by City, University of London.
Josephine Kay (Executive Admin Assistant, The Advocacy Project) who led the project explained more:
“The three videos are all centred on positive and negative experiences within healthcare for people with learning disabilities. The main focus of the videos is looking at the impact of communication barriers for someone with learning disabilities and how this affects their patient journey within a health care setting, in particular the difficulties accessing healthcare.”
The videos are:
Positive healthcare experiences and importance of good support (with Noureddine El Alaoui)
- Difficulties accessing good, safe, health care (with Seham Dahi)
- Communication barriers accessing the GP (with Stephen Band)
In the videos Noureddine El Alaoui, Seham Dahi and Stephen Band explain how they need health care professionals to communicate with them using objects of reference, role play, visual information, simplified language and repetition.