When deaths go wrong

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Lessons learnt from avoidable deaths of people with learning disabilities or autism

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With Paula McGowan and Sheila Handley

People with learning disabilities are at risk of dying too young, and dying unnecessarily. The Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) in England has found that too often, those deaths are a result of failings within health and social care provision. Reflecting on this has never been more important – during the pandemic, the inequalities that many people with learning disabilities face have been put into stark focus. Today we focus on the stories of Oliver’s and Richard's deaths, and on what lessons we can all learn from this.

Oliver McGowan died in 2016. He was 18 years old. Oliver had mild learning disabilities and autism. A recent independent LeDeR review concluded Oliver’s death was avoidable. Richard Handley died in 2012 at the age of 33, from complications arising from constipation. He had Down syndrome and mental health problems. The inquest into his death concluded that their had been “gross failures” in his care and treatment.

Paula McGowan and Sheila Handley share the stories of their sons’ lives, and of the healthcare failings that contributed to their deaths. Oliver’s and Richard’s stories are profoundly important and profoundly moving.

Paula McGowan is a multi-award winning activist who, following Oliver’s death, has dedicated her life to campaigning for equality of health and social care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. As a direct consequence of her campaign, the UK government announced that all NHS and social care staff will receive the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism. @PaulaMc007

In this webinar, you will not only learn what can go wrong, but also what can be done to make sure things go right for people with autism and learning disabilities who need healthcare. This is an important learning opportunity for all health and social care staff, service managers, commissioners and policy makers. It will also be of interest to anyone affected by these issues, including families and carers.

About the PCPLD Network webinar series

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have put together monthly webinars to help everyone cope with some of the most difficult issues around death, dying, bereavement, Covid-19, and learning disability (or “intellectual disability” as it is known outside the UK).

Our webinars are free of charge, and we want to keep it that way.

But… we are a small charity with enthusiastic and dedicated people (mostly volunteering their time) but no source of income. To keep this webinar series going, we rely on donations. Please consider helping us by making a contribution. Our suggested donation for webinar attendance is £2 DONATE HERE

Thank you!

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