Neurodiverse individuals are just that – Training and awareness for care professionals

Neurodiversity Celebration Week (18-22 March) provides us with an excellent opportunity to put this essential aspect of home care delivery in the spotlight.

Working with a variety of neurodiverse clients, from children through to older adults, we’re privileged to have a unique insight into the needs of different conditions under the neurodiversity umbrella, including autism, ADHD and dyspraxia.

Additionally, through our home care work we understand how conditions such as dementia can introduce neurodiversity into someone’s life.

However, with this experience in mind, it’s important to remember that we’re not condition-centred; we’re person-centred.

This means that we champion our clients as individuals, meeting their unique needs rather than trying to fit them into a mould based on a diagnosis.

This is why we’re particularly passionate about recognising neurodiversity as an integral part of our care clients as diverse individuals.

But doesn’t that mean…

A number of misconceptions exist surrounding neurodiversity which can be harmful to our clients and those beyond the Nexus family. Awareness of these biases and how to avoid them is vital to creating more equitable relationships, especially between carers and clients.

Homogeny is one that we’ve already addressed but one that we ought to reiterate. The assumption that neurodiversity covers only one condition or behaviour is not only incorrect, but it also informs poor care practices based on assumptions rather than effective communication.

The fact is that neurodiversity covers a range of conditions and learning patterns which may significantly hinder functioning in a neurotypical way, or not.

Intelligence and agency are two others which must be addressed and are inextricably linked.

Although less pervasive than it used to be, the idea that neurodiversity impacts intelligence is one which often leads to poor care outcomes.

It assumes that neurodiverse people are not fully aware of their own needs, which therefore strips away agency and results in impersonal care.

Of course, we recognise that some neurodivergent individuals do require support in communicating their needs, particularly if they require a high level of care such as in the case of dementia. In these cases, we may find that there is a decreased awareness of physical needs which can impact on relying solely on the client to communicate their needs.

In general, though, we are exceptionally keen to above these misconceptions in any of our care services.

Removing these assumptions is a major driver for neurodiverse-led, person-centred training for our care team, since we cannot deliver care properly with these ideas in place.

Proactive training and maximised awareness

Training for staff is perhaps the most important step that we can take to support neurodiverse people through our care services.

Our commitment to training and support is rooted in the understanding that neurodiverse individuals possess unique perspectives, and needs.

By investing in comprehensive training for our care staff, we not only enhance their ability to provide personalised care but also create an environment where neurodiverse individuals are understood, valued, and supported in ways that reflect their individuality.

Training encompasses understanding the spectrum of neurodiversity, recognising the diverse ways in which neurodiverse individuals experience and interact with the world, and developing strategies to provide support that is both respectful and responsive to their requirements.

As part of our ongoing commitment to delivering the best care to all our clients, we make full use of the existing resources available to the care sector.

For example, the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism enables us to provide specialist, standardised training on certain neurodiversities to all staff.

As the preferred standard for the NHS, Skills for Care and Health Education England, this training is an excellent opportunity for our care team to set time aside that is dedicated to understanding the needs of neurodiverse clients.

This helps to inform our individual care plans and our approach to service delivery.

By trusting that clients know their own needs and asking our care team to do the same, we’re equipping ourselves with more accurate data on clients and the ability to meet their needs.

Neurodiversity at home

Delivering care at home allows us to put this training into practice more flexibly than in a public sector healthcare setting.

In a comfortable, familiar environment, we can help to meet the needs of neurodiverse individuals in their own space and better connect with clients who require help communicating their needs.

In particular, we can get a better understanding of each client’s routines and preferences, allowing us to tailor their support in a meaningful way.

This is designed to empower both our clients and also our staff.

Understanding neurodiversity and approaching it in the right way can be a challenge to those with little experience of it – so we encourage an open dialogue and a collaborative approach to planning and delivering care.

Our aim is to support our staff in moving beyond misconceptions and applying our client-centred approach to neurodiversity.

In this way, we can deliver truly comprehensive and personalised home care.

Contact us to learn more about our person-centred approach to care.

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