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Peer Education for Autism

Background 

This project provides education to families, personal assistants and small independent care providers, delivered in partnership by peer educators and subject matter experts. The aim of the work is to support the development of peer coaching and training to provide learning and resources which will upskill families and carers.

The education was developed for families as a priority but is also relevant to personal assistants and small support providers. It will contribute to the reduction of the potential for unnecessary admissions for autistic people of all ages whose distressed behaviours may otherwise lead to hospital admission by giving families and carers the knowledge, skills and support to use appropriate strategies to prevent crisis escalation.   

 

Why is the training needed? 

This is an approach to remote education and coaching provision which is designed to reduce the pressure on stretched families and support the interventions service providers offer.  It recognises that coaching from other (peer) family members is uniquely valued, especially when accompanied by input from subject matter experts. 

Health Education England commissioned Great Minds Together to design & deliver a peer education project to support the needs of families, personal assistants and small independent care providers throughout the Covid pandemic, and to provide learning and resources to upskill and reduce the potential for unnecessary admissions for autistic people into hospital.

The project is the first ever Peer Education Programme that treats the family as the workforce and uses an innovative and responsive model to rapidly provide bespoke education to focus on optimal mental health support.  

It is vital that the importance of families is acknowledged when recognising the essential role that they play in providing care and support. The flexibility of the Great Minds Together model of delivery, results in families being educated, guided and supported to ensure they are armed with essential knowledge and skills to keep their loved ones safe, as well as education to develop strategies that reduce risk of crisis. Families feel empowered & supported, leading to a reduction in the use of health & care services that are already under pressure throughout the system. The model offers tremendous potential to positively impact on the quality of life, not only of the autistic person but also on their families and carers, and crucially is available flexibly and on demand. 

Dr Ashok Roy OBE - HEE Clinical Advisor, Learning Disabilities and Autism

What will the training look like?  

  • A single source of learning and development materials from trusted sources in one place, will aid families, personal assistants and small support providers accessibility to quality resources 
  • Remotely-delivered/online training will provide accessible learning opportunities, leading to increased capability and increased resilience.  
  • Provision of telephone or online-based coaching will ensure timely responsive access for families to access personalised, expert guidance. 

 

What will the peer education programme involve? 

Great Minds Together have been appointed by Health Education England to deliver the first ever Peer Education Programme that treats the family as the workforce. The programme will support families, befriender’s, personal assistants and small independent care providers in order to ‘upskill’ the team around the family as part of an evidenced based programme to prevent escalation of mental health needs resulting in hospitalisation.

This innovative programme sets out to provide a level of free education and support to families and professionals like no other; in order to ensure mental health comes first for autistic people. Great Minds Together have selected a small number of highly skilled partners and staff members in order to provide information for people across all walks of life, to include online training, CPD courses, interactive workshops, peer support groups and on-call support.

 

Who will deliver the peer education programme?  

Great Minds Together have been awarded the contract.

A link to their website is here.

 

Independent evaluation

An initial independent evaluation of the two peer education projects has been undertaken and further work has been commissioned to evaluate the impact of peer education, and to build case studies. The second stage evaluation will be published in January 2022.  

If you would like an accessible version of the independent evaluation report please email learning.disability@hee.nhs.uk