L-R: Helen Cairns (Treat Me Right! Project Manager), Lorraine Jarman (Family Support Manager), John Keaveny (Learning Disability Awareness Trainer Coordinator), and May Lee (Personalisation Development Lead).
Treat Me Right! is an autism and learning disability awareness training and consultancy programme. The programme was commissioned by NHS North West London CCGs, and delivered by not-for-profit London social care provider Certitude. It has been chosen from hundreds of applicants to represent North West London in a prestigious competition to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday.
About the awards
Launched in February, the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards asked MPs to find and nominate those individuals or teams they thought have made the biggest improvements to health services in their constituencies across ten categories. Certitude’s Treat Me Right! Team was nominated by Virendra Sharma MP, Mark Field MP, Nick Hurd MP, Boris Johnson MP, and Tulip Siddiq MP.
From over 750 entries, senior experts have chosen four outstanding nominations in each category, which exemplify the best of what the NHS and its partners do day in, day out.
As regional champion in the Care and Compassion Award category, Treat Me Right! will now vie with other regional winners from across England for a national award. The award will be presented at a special ceremony in the Palace of Westminster in July.
About Treat Me Right!
Through the Treat Me Right! programme, frontline NHS staff are trained to better understand the experiences of people with autism and/or learning disabilities, and to make reasonable adjustments to the way services are delivered where needed. This training directly helps autistic people avoid escalation of distress and/or unnecessary hospital admissions.
To reach as many staff as possible (and therefore benefit as many patients as possible) the training was adapted into bespoke modules, tailored to each audience.
All Treat Me Right! training has been co-delivered by someone who has lived experience of learning disability or autism.
One of the trainers, Ben, who is autistic, said:
“Being a trainer isn’t about sitting down and staying still like a museum exhibit, but about really interacting with the attendees and telling my story.”
Anne has a learning disability and is on a diagnosis pathway for autism. Anne, whose mother was a nurse, said:
“I love being a learning disability awareness trainer. It’s like I’m following in my mum's footsteps, but doing a different sort of nursing, and making sure the lives of people with learning disabilities are taken into account – making sure that doctors and nurses know how to treat us with respect.”
The National Autistic Society has welcomed the introduction of autism training. Tim Nicholls, the charity’s Policy Manager, said:
"This training has the potential to make a real difference to local autistic people and their families.
“Many autistic people find it hard to access appropriate health and social care support, and struggle with poor mental and physical health as a result.
"The first step to addressing this is making sure that staff understand autism and know what reasonable adjustments can help autistic people.
“We hope other areas in England will take note of this and introduce similar schemes, to make sure they are meeting their legal duties on autism.”
Virendra Sharma MP (Ealing Southall) said: “I was proud to nominate the Treat Me Right! training programme for the Care and Compassion Award, and I’m extremely pleased to see that it has been very deservedly shortlisted.”
John Wicks, Director of Mental Health Strategy and Transformation at NHS North West London CCGs, said:
“Mental health, learning disabilities, and autism are all priorities for NHS North West London CCGs. With programmes like Treat Me Right! we are looking closely at the ways these areas of health and wellbeing intersect with each other.
“We are very proud to have designed and commissioned this work, with funding support from Health Education England.
“Feedback from staff shows us that the training has dramatically improved staff understanding around autism, thereby helping to avoid the escalation of distress and unnecessary hospital admissions. It could potentially save lives.”
What happens next?
All of the champions will now be invited to the national awards ceremony, which will be held on 4 July, the day before the NHS’s 70th birthday.
The ceremony will be hosted by Dr Sara Kayat, NHS GP and TV Doctor best known for This Morning, Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls and GPs: Behind Closed Doors.
The regional champions will now go forward to a final stage of judging by a panel including the leaders of Royal Colleges, the Unison trade union, and the Patients Association – collectively representing millions of health and care workers and patients.
The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by IBM and Teva, recognise the massive contribution made by the individuals who work in and alongside the NHS.