OLIVER MCGOWAN STORY
Oliver McGowan was a British Teenager who was mildly autistic, epileptic and learning disabilities. He died at the age of 18 after being given antipsychotic medication despite his parents and doctors repeatedly telling them he had reacted badly in previous instances. His story is instrumental for the creation of ‘The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism’ for people who require general awareness of the support autistic people or people with a learning disability may need.
From the moment Oliver was born, his parents knew he was special, and their love for him was overwhelming. Born a month premature, Oliver faced a life-threatening battle with bacterial meningitis at just three weeks old. Miraculously, he defied the odds and began to recover. Throughout his life, there was something about Oliver that drew people to him, a magnetic charm that endured.
Early Life and Triumph over Adversity
Oliver was not just an athlete; he was a natural leader and school prefect. He achieved several GCSE and BTEC qualifications, furthering his education at National Star College in Cheltenham. Faculty and peers alike praised his kindness, humor, and the potential they saw in him. Oliver radiated positivity, making everyone around him happier.
Despite his limitations, Oliver never complained or asked, “Why me?” He accepted everything with a smile and inspired others with his courage and enthusiasm. Neurologists assured his family that Oliver had a full life expectancy, and he was expected to live an independent life with a little support.
However, in October 2015, Oliver’s life took a tragic turn. He was admitted to a children’s hospital with simple partial focal seizures. What followed was a series of medical decisions that had devastating consequences. Antidepressant medication led to changes in Oliver’s mood and an increase in seizures. The introduction of antipsychotic medications, despite no diagnosis of psychosis or mental illness, caused a catastrophic decline in Oliver’s condition.
A Tragic Turn of Events
These events set off a chain of misjudgments and misunderstandings about Oliver’s unique needs. His family’s pleas to reconsider the medication were initially ignored, and Oliver was held against his will under the Mental Health Act. It wasn’t until the medications were removed that his condition improved, and he was discharged home.
April 2016 saw another admission to the same hospital, with similar results. Oliver’s reactions to antipsychotic medications were misinterpreted, leading to further suffering. A transfer to a specialist adult hospital provided some relief, but it exposed Oliver to physical restraint and a lack of understanding about his autism.
The turning point came when Oliver was transferred to a specialist mental health PICU hospital. Here, a different approach allowed Oliver to improve, and doctors agreed that he was not psychotic or mentally ill. His medications were adjusted, and he was discharged into the care of a specialist learning disability team.
A Call for Change
Throughout this ordeal, it became evident that many healthcare professionals lacked understanding of autism, seizures, and the importance of making reasonable adjustments. Oliver’s insight into his own condition was remarkable, yet it was often dismissed. His tragic deterioration in October 2016, possibly due to the adverse effects of antipsychotic medications, ultimately led to severe brain damage.
Oliver’s passing on Armistice Day was a devastating loss for his family and a poignant reminder of the need for better communication and understanding in healthcare. His story underscores the importance of adhering to the NHSE STOMP project’s guidelines, which promote listening to patients and their families, respecting their concerns, and working in partnership.
The Oliver McGowan Training Initiative: Transforming Healthcare for Autism and Learning Disabilities
In a pivotal moment for healthcare education, the launch of the Oliver McGowan Training on Learning Disability and Autism marks a significant milestone. This initiative, named after Oliver McGowan, serves as a poignant reminder of the critical need for better training on learning disabilities and autism for health and social care staff. Oliver’s story, tragically cut short in November 2016, was a catalyst for change, thanks to the unwavering advocacy of his parents, Paula and Tom McGowan.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is a groundbreaking initiative designed in collaboration with autistic individuals and those with learning disabilities. It consists of two tiers, tailored to the specific needs of health and social care staff, aligning with the requirements outlined as per UK laws.
- Tier One: This level is designed for staff in roles such as administration and estates, providing a general awareness of the support needs of autistic individuals and those with learning disabilities.
- Tier Two: Geared towards frontline health and care staff responsible for providing care and support to this population.
Both tiers commence with an e-learning package, which takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes to complete. This foundational e-learning equips staff with a fundamental understanding of learning disabilities and autism, communication methods, and the concept of reasonable adjustments.
Who Should do the Oliver McGowan Training?
The Oliver McGowan training is not limited to frontline health and social care staff; it extends to individuals in roles that may not typically engage with the public, including those in administration, estates, facilities, and corporate functions. This mandate encompasses leaders working at board and executive levels. Education providers are encouraged to incorporate this training into their curriculum to ensure that students and trainees have access to it before entering clinical settings.
Why Is the Oliver McGowan Training So Important?
The Oliver McGowan Training is pivotal because it has the potential to enhance the quality of care and, crucially, save lives. Oliver McGowan’s tragic story highlighted the urgent need for healthcare professionals to undergo comprehensive training that fosters a deeper understanding of learning disabilities and autism.
A trial of this training involving over 8,000 participants in health and care settings demonstrated its effectiveness. It improved knowledge, skills, and confidence among staff in working with autistic individuals and those with learning disabilities. The quality of the training was also highly rated.
This initiative is vital for challenging preconceptions, promoting the making of reasonable adjustments, and bolstering staff confidence in delivering care. Ultimately, it is a powerful step towards reducing healthcare inequalities and ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities, receives the care and respect they deserve.
The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism stands as a testament to the commitment to provide comprehensive, inclusive, and respectful care for all individuals, regardless of their unique needs. The Tier one course is available on Meducination.com and is a must do for everyone dealing with kids and adults having autism and learning disabilities.
NOTE: The post is not a medical advice and is only for informational purposes. You should consult your physician/doctor for all medical consultations. Should you want to know more about the course or enrol in the Tier 1 online course, please do have a look at our Oliver McGowan Training on Learning Disability and Autism course.