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Celebrating Learning Disability Week

This month we celebrated Learning Disability Week (17-23 June) with staff from our learning disability services who took the time to tell us about their roles and the important work they do, as well as the things they do to support their patients to feel seen, heard and valued, which is the theme for this year's awareness week. 

Dr Hannah Senior, Clinical PsychologistDr Hannah Senior

“I work with people who have a learning disability with mental health issues or behaviour that challenges. I do lots of different assessments and interventions using psychological models, such as adapted CBT, systemic therapy and positive behaviour support (PBS), either directly or indirectly with the person's family and/or carers.

“Our team are always thinking about the person as an individual. We try to get information about adjustments they might need before we even meet them, whether that's using interpreters, having a specific place to meet, using visual pictures, or taking breaks throughout the sessions.”

 Jess Meadowcroft Jess Meadowcroft, Community Psychiatric Nurse

“I have a caseload of clients I visit to help with any worries and make sure they are keeping well, that they understand their treatment plans and are able to access resources they need. I also help run the social group and speak to people calling into the team for support.

“I love encouraging my clients to see their strengths, make use of them and take joy in them. There are so many things my clients are really great at and loads of things they have taught me more about! For any of us, our identity and confidence are built on the things we are passionate about. I love for my clients to feel confident in themselves and know how great they are."

Helena Caunt, Speech and Language Therapy Team LeadHelena Caunt

“The SLT (speech and language therapy) team works with people to identify communication strengths and needs and advises on strategies to support, such as the use of Makaton signs, visuals or objects of reference. We also develop communication resources, such as communication books or communication passports.

“We work with clients and their carers to come up with joint SLT goals. We always use a person-centred approach, putting clients’ needs and preferences at the centre of our work and recommendations. We might use additional strategies such as Talking Mats (a visual approach) to help clients to share their thoughts on certain topics.”

 Ijeoma Ndubuisi Ijeoma Ndubuisi, Intellectual Disability & Autism Lead Nurse

“I am specifically trained to work with people with learning disabilities and have worked in learning disability services for 23 years. I enjoy making a difference by providing evidence-based interventions which have evolved significantly over the years.

“If you have an interest in working in learning disability services, take the step! You will not regret it. The scope of work is broad, and you will usually work within the supportive framework of a multidisciplinary team. You will find that a seemingly small intervention can often be life-changing.”

Dr Samantha Riches, Consultant Clinical Psychologist & Lead PsychologistSamantha Riches

“I have been in my post since February 2024 and have been made to feel very welcome. My first paid role in the NHS was in the mental health learning disability service here at SWLSTG, so I am delighted to be back! 

“I'm excited to shape the services we have and develop them further to ensure that we are offering high quality clinical input for people with learning disabilities and neurodivergence across the Trust. I'm passionate about getting it right for people with learning disabilities - if you get it right for people with learning disabilities, you'll likely be getting it right for everyone!”

 Aisling Lally Aisling Lally, Family/Systemic Therapist

I am a family/systemic therapist – it is the first family therapy post in learning disabilities in the Trust and I feel very lucky to be in this role. I work with people diagnosed with learning disabilities and people in their wider systems, which might be parents, siblings, friends, partners and/or carers.

“Family sessions can help families notice what they are doing well and discover new ways of dealing with any difficulties that might be experienced. We use different ways of helping people to hear each other’s perspectives and work together to hear more about the strengths and resources people have and how these can be used to manage challenges that may arise.”

Ade Bisi-Balogun, Deputy Team LeaderAde Bisi-Balogun

“My role as a learning disability physiotherapist involves working with people with learning disabilities and their network to address mobility, postural or functional impairments which limit their ability to participate in their usual basic activities of daily living and improve their quality of life.

“I particularly enjoy working with people with learning disabilities and also listening and working collaboratively with their care network, listening to their concerns and working together to resolve identified challenges.”


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