As Chairman of the Ridgeway Partnership (Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust) I attended the Oxfordshire Community Teams Celebration Day on Thursday last week. This was a fantastic opportunity to hear about some examples of the best things the Oxfordshire teams have done during the year and to reconnect with the realities of the lives of our service users with learning disabilities and the staff who support them.
Presentations covered a course developed for young people with autism at Oakley College on sex and relationships; some practical examples of assistive technology; a demonstration of some of the exercises used in a falls service developed specifically for people with learning disabilities who have difficulty accessing the standard falls service; talks on approaches to parents with a learning disability and supporting women with learning disabilities through the menopause; patient pathways for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.
We enjoyed an uplifting story about a gentleman with a learning disability who broke an ankle and was supported to rebuild his confidence sufficiently to return to independent living in his own home. An ‘everyday’ story which nevertheless illustrated the quality of the service our teams provide. It would have been so easy to let the man lose his independence as so many older people do after a fall and a period in hosptial. Instead, he was gently encouraged and supported by a range of professionals and support workers and, via a short spell in a respite service with which he was familiar, regained his confidence and independence.
The day ended with a humorous quizz and some festive music – a well earned opportunity to relax and celebrate with colleagues. I will take back to the boardroom a renewed pride in the job our staff do, and an increased awareness of the range of services provided by the teams, the innovative support they can offer and the pains taken to tailor support to individual needs.