Health and Happiness has always been passionate about the lived experience of people with learning disabilities and/or autism in Highland. This is a powerful voice in educating professionals and organisations about their services but it is also important to raise awareness within individuals themselves, so they can be in control of their own decisions and choices based on quality information and support. We believe in the social model of disability and a holistic view of health and well-being which includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual awareness.
Delivering peer-led education, awareness and training on a range of issues that impact on health inequality, accessing mainstream services, making positive lifestyle choices and learning how to be safe in communities are some of the aims of this work. We want to raise the bar of expectation that people with learning disabilities and/or autism have in relation to their health, well-being and the services they receive.This must be challenged and needs to change, with ‘experts’ themselves (people with the authenticity of lived experience) at the heart of creating that change.
Initiatives where Health and Happiness has been involved include :-
- Health Ambassador Project – a Health & Happiness project providing feedback on health materials, such as with The Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Highland Accessible Information Officer
- Credit Crunch Come Dine – a Highland wide Health & Happiness project, and competition, where people with learning disabilities hosted a dinner party within their homes for four people and a budget of £20 for three courses. This was primarily to raise awareness of healthy eating, but also how to shop and budget, and develop skills in connecting to friendships. A cookbook of all the recipes was produced.
- Highland Learning Disabilities & Relationships Group (HLDRG) – production of a toolkit, which raised awareness and education about sex, sexuality and sexual safety for people with learning disabilities and autism.
- Procurator Fiscal Training – how to support vulnerable adults going to court to testify, which led to the Fiscal Service receiving an award for excellence, (in partnership with People First Highland and Highland Council)
- Safety First Training – developed by Health & Happiness and based on Suzy Lamplugh Trust training on how to make safe choices at work, at home, in community and develop confidence.
- Adult Support & Protection (NHS Highland) : development and delivery of films and case studies, such as on Financial Harm, which is utilised in ASP training (in partnership with People First Highland)
- Dying2Know (Kate Maclean, Older Adults Development Worker, NHS Highland) – working with Health and Happiness for the past 5 years on opening up discussions about death, dying, palliative care and choices, celebrating life.
Current projects include :-
- RASASH(Rape and Sexual Abuse Services Highland) ‘No More’ Preventing Sexual Abuse of People with Learning Disabilities : a 6 week course and toolkit, led by RASASH, where peer educators are being trained in delivering a 6 week programme of sessions to peers and professionals. This was funded by RASASH through The Postcode Lottery and will be quality controlled by RASASH. Other partner organisations being trained include People First Highland, Cantraybridge College and NHS Highland Learning Disability Nurses.
- NHS Highland (Public Health) & University of Stirling (Raigmore Campus) : development of materials on educating peers about bowel screening & associated healthy lifestyle choices.
- Celebrating Down Syndrome Diversity : a special interest initiative, highlighting health issues and ethical issues facing people with Down Syndrome and prospective parents, where Health and Happiness supports a global community and collective voice in challenging current socio-cultural views on quality of life and right to be born.
[Photos and reports to follow]