It’s Learning Disability Week!

Three of our recently qualified social workers spoke about and what it means to them to work with Stockport residents and their carers

As part of the celebrations for Learning Disability Week, we have asked Darren, Lily and Nyasha, three of our recently qualified social workers, to prepare a piece about their experience of joining Stockport Council and what it means to them to work with Stockport residents and their carers.

Lily and Nyasha

We are three social workers completing the ASYE: - our names are Nyasha, Lily and Darren and we work across the Learning Disability and Autism Teams. We wanted to write something to celebrate Learning Disability week and the fantastic people we support.

We think this work is important, primarily because we want to make sure that people with learning disabilities are treated equally within society and that their needs don’t get lost. For example, Annual Health checks are important in ensuring that people have fair and equal access to health care and that signs and symptoms of ill health are picked up quickly. The LeDeR (Learning from Deaths of People with a Learning Disability) work has in recent years shone a light on the significant health inequalities for people with learning disabilities. Through Learning Disability Social Work, we aim to raise awareness of this and help people to access the support they need to get health care. Working alongside the Learning Disability Health Team is a key part the support network, to support the people we work alongside.

Working alongside individuals to meet with Care Act needs, we are empowered as social workers to drive out inequalities on an individual basis. This means we need to have high aspirations for the people we work alongside. We value having access to partner organisations such as Pure, who provide supported employment opportunities. When working with partner organisations, supporting them to see the value in the skills people with learning disabilities and autistic people bring.

All of us have worked with people who bring individual skills and strengths that have gone unrecognised. In carrying out our work, we do we want to give opportunities for these skills to be recognised, utilised and to see people flourish. We seek to push out inequality, so that people live great and fulfilling lives.

We aim, through social work interventions, to help close the gap between the social and medical models of disability. Darren completed the joint nursing and social work programme: - this gives a unique perspective on both disciplines. By having high aspirations for the people, we work alongside, we aim to raise other aspirations and the overall quality of life for people with learning disabilities. Sometimes this means being adaptive and hearing people’s aspirations through however they communicate, to enable people to live a life of their choosing.

The positives of social work with people with learning disabilities are that we get to meet some fantastic people both individuals and their carers, meeting families who are supportive of adult children.

During the pandemic we saw how resilient, people with learning disabilities and their carers were. As society moves towards increased freedoms in the wake of Lockdown, as a next step we want to support the adults we work with to increase their confidence. In some adults we presently work with, communication and independence skills did decline. Our aspiration is to support them to build their skills again and get back to the things they enjoy.

During this ASYE year, we have learnt and widened our understanding of other conditions and how they impact on people with learning disabilities such as autism, mental health, dementia, epilepsy, and genetic conditions. As part of working on this team, we have reaffirmed the importance of adapting communication skills or personalising our approaches, to get the best from or for people.
Overall, we’ve enjoyed our first year working in the learning disabilities team and look forward to the next!