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Learning disability training to be mandatory following health board's work with campaigners

A nurse in a blue uniform smiles down at a patient with red hair.

Learning disability awareness training for health and care staff is to become mandatory across Wales, following the work of Swansea Bay University Health Board with local campaigners.

The family of Paul Ridd - who died in Morriston Hospital after receiving very poor care - has worked with the health board to develop staff training and improve care for other patients with learning disabilities since 2009.

Morriston Hospital ward sister Melanie Davies has been key to the development of this training.

She has worked tirelessly with Mr Ridd’s brother Jonathan and sister Jayne Nicholls to improve other health workers’ understanding and skills to help people with learning disabilities.

Since 2010 Melanie has advised colleagues, developed information packs, delivered training and developed a network of champions. Much of this work has been done in her own time.

Now, learning disability awareness training will be included in all health boards’ mandatory equality and diversity training.

Speaking in the Senedd, Julie Morgan AM revealed that work is under way to develop a three-tier framework to embed this training within NHS Wales. Under this programme all staff will get basic training, with more specific training for those that have more intensive contact with people with learning disabilities.

Melanie said: “This is a massive step forward.

“Traditionally, learning disability awareness hasn’t been part of general nurse training. So one of the aims of our work with the Paul Ridd Foundation has been to take what we’ve learned across the country.

“This pledge will mean that staff across Wales are given the training and tools to help patients with learning disabilities, as they currently are at Swansea Bay.

“They will know where to go for support and be empowered to make reasonable adjustments to ensure patients with learning disabilities get the best possible care.”

Gareth Howells, Director of Nursing and Patient Experience, said: “The Paul Ridd Foundation has done some wonderful work, and we have already seen the benefits of working closely with it to improve learning disabilities awareness and training in Swansea Bay. 

“We are very pleased that it is now going to be taken across Wales and look forward to continuing to improve the care we provide to people with a learning disability at Swansea Bay University Health Board.”

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