Learning Disability Hospital Link For Learning

A hospital in Cheadle which helps people with learning disabilities has formed a partnership with a college in Leek, to enable staff and service users to learn together.

Acorn Care Ltd, in Lockwood Road, Cheadle, is linking up with Leek College to give healthcare professionals an insight into its care and treatment programmes.

The hospital is registered as part of the National Open College Network, and the 50-bed Woodhouse complex offers on-site learning for both care staff and service users.

Leek College’s E-bus will visit the hospital on a weekly basis for training sessions, which will include computing, literacy and numeracy.

And there is also a wide variety of vocational and recreational courses on offer, ranging from car washing to drama.

Dr Tom Tait, clinical and workforce development manager at the hospital, said: “Our learning together approach all began twelve months ago, when our staff and service users enrolled on a GCSE art course run through Leek’s Westwood College.

“We noticed for the first time our staff and service users were working together on an equal basis. There was such a change in attitude, and the whole dynamic of the group changed.

“People with disabilities carry labels throughout their lives, and this was the ideal way to deconstruct those labels and rebuild self-esteem.

“When you achieve a qualification there is an obvious growth in your self-esteem, and so we are introducing an individual learning plan for each service user based on what he or she wants to achieve.”

Leek College has won a number of national awards for its work with students who have learning disabilities at The Honeycomb Centre, in Longnor, and now the college will link up with the Acorn centre to set up a virtual learning centre using computers for remote access to the college campus in Leek.

Principal of Leek College Rob Morrey is looking forward to the link-up.

He said: “Acorn Care is a very forward-looking company, highly committed to staff training, and we are delighted to be working with them.

“As a Centre of Vocational Excellence in advanced IT, we are well placed to help deliver remote learning, and we are pleased to be able to share our resources in this way.”

James Billington, a teacher at the Acorn centre said: “Our ethos is all about changing people’s lives for the better by helping them to achieve, and we work with service users on a one-to-one basis using a learning programme tailored to their individual needs.

“It’s a matter of finding subjects to interest the student to spark their enthusiasm, and a great example is one of my current students who had no interest in literacy, but was passionate about his vinyl record collection.

“He’s now mastered the alphabet after I challenged him to put all his records in alphabetical order.”

For more information about programmes at Acorn Care, in Cheadle, contact chief executive Stephanie Dulson, on 01538 755623.