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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

ASSIST

Autism and Sensory Support in Staffordshire


Claire Bishop at ASSIST, (Autism and Sensory Support in Staffordshire) explains how working in partnership with Open College Network West Midlands resulted in a range of positive outcomes.

“ASSIST’s work with Open College Network West Midlands has allowed the creation and development of a much needed course.  The process; from development through to certification, has been smooth and they have been supportive throughout.  Open College Network West Midlands advisors were always available to answer questions and provide guidance to ensure the centre and learner needs were met”. 

Claire Bishop, ASSIST Interpreter
 

Staff proudly showing off their Open College Network West Midlands qualification certificates.


In 2014, the obligation for local authorities to provide specialist assessments for people who are deafblind was included in the Care Act.  Therein, it stated that assessors are required to have a minimum Level 3 qualification in deafblind assessment such as those provided by Open College Network West Midlands.

 
At the time in Staffordshire, there were no specialist courses available for people to qualify to meet the minimum statutory requirements for deafblind assessments. ASSIST was approached to develop and deliver training to meet this obligation.  The training was devised for Social Workers, Social Care Assessors and any professionals involved in assessing the needs of deafblind people. We were very fortunate to have a Specialist Social Worker for Deafblind people who provided advice and guidance on the legal aspects of the Act and who supported the teaching.

Through partnership working with Open College Network West Midlands, ASSIST wrote and delivered the Open College Network West Midlands Level 3 Award for Specialist Deafblind Assessors qualification.

The Course gives professionals an opportunity to engage in the practical and theoretic components of assessing people with a dual sensory loss. The training had two prerequisite days to be eligible to join the course, followed by a further 2 day intensive training session.  Candidates were required to complete a workbook to reinforce learning and reflect how this impacts upon their working practice and they were required to complete an anonymised assessment of a Deafblind person including decisions around eligibility and possible support requirements/referrals to other professional as required.


“ASSIST’s work with Open College Network West Midlands has allowed the creation and development of a much needed course.  The process; from development through to certification, has been smooth and they have been supportive throughout.  Open College Network West Midlands advisors were always available to answer questions and provide guidance to ensure the centre and learner needs were met”.


The course was funded by Staffordshire County Council and was attended by County Council staff and colleagues from Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust. Jayne Rogers, a Rehabilitation Officer for People with Visual Impairment from the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust commented;

“My professional training included work with deafblind people but it was not included in the qualification title. The opportunity to refresh my knowledge of the issues faced by deafblind people and to share my knowledge and experience has been invaluable.
“Earning this qualification requires hard work but it is extremely interesting and well worth doing to help those who are especially vulnerable.”


Mandy Tucker, Manager of ASSIST commented;

“As a team, ASSIST are really pleased to see all of the planning come to fruition. Thank you to Claire Bishop for the workbook development and to Rowena Toon for her invaluable insights as a Specialist Social Worker for Deaf and Deafblind people.  Thank you too to the deafblind service users who contributed to the course content through their stories and experiences and for their attendance at the training days. It is hoped that further courses will continue in order to ensure that deafblind people in Staffordshire will be properly identified, assessed and their needs met. This is really just the beginning as there is scope for further skills enhancement and development, and long may it continue.”

Alan White, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, commented;

“I am very pleased to say Staffordshire now has twelve fully qualified assessors to help our County’s deafblind people. People with dual sensory impairments often need very tailored and specialist care to support them in everyday life and it’s vital we have the right people on hand to provide this service. This is a much needed course that fully equips us to provide the best care we can. Congratulations to everyone who receives their award on Wednesday.”

(The first presentation evening for recipients of this qualification was held on the 7th December 2016 to present the first cohort of learners their well earned Certificates)

For further information regarding ASSIST can be found by using the following link:
https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/education/ASSIST/home.aspx

 

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