Raising awareness of learning disabilities at Newton Lodge


A group of service users at Newton Lodge have successfully completed a learning disability awareness course and were awarded a certificate in a special celebration event to mark their achievement.

Newton Lodge provides specialist mental health care to people from across the Yorkshire and Humber region. The awareness course, involving service users from Chippendale and Appleton wards, was introduced in October 2012 and the newest group are the second to take part.

Running for 15 sessions, the awareness course has been introduced to encourage service users to work in a group setting, sharing stories and experiences of learning disabilities and the impact they have on their lives. The sessions were tailored to meet the needs of the group members and covered a number of topics to develop understanding and raise awareness.

As part of the course, the group took part in discussions about learning disabilities and were given advice on coping strategies and how to recognise bullying, abuse and hate crime. Service users also developed life maps which told the story of their lives and significant issues they had faced around learning disabilities.

Anne Todd, advanced nurse practitioner, supported the facilitation of the group sessions and said, “We decided the run the awareness group again as we got really good feedback last year. Taking part in the group has some really positive benefits and provides an opportunity for service users to share their experiences and help others in a similar position.”

After the course had finished, participants gave a variation of positive feedback and said that they felt the group had ‘listened to each others opinions and everyone involved took part in discussing the experiences of people with learning disabilities’. They also identified that they had learned about the stigma surrounding mental health and learning disabilities.

Following the group’s second success it is planned that the course will run once a year. Anne also hopes that materials generated from the group can be used for staff training to develop an awareness of the experiences of service users and the impact learning disabilities has on their lives.

Anne and the other course facilitators are also currently working on a paper, which will be published in 2015, and will include key findings from the group sessions.

Raising awareness of learning disabilities at Newton Lodge

time to read: 1 min