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Day 69 Justice for LB: The importance of Listening

Talking Mats has adopted day 69 of the justice for LB Campaign. This campaign was started was after Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in the bath whilst staying in  an assessment treatment unit .  In the words of his mum Connor was ‘a beautiful, hilarious and loved beyond words dude’.  So, after decades of trying to improve services for people with learning disability, closing the long stay hospitals, bringing in person centred approaches, we are left in 2014 with huge inequalities in the health and life opportunities  for people with learning disability and life’s like Connor are cut short in such a shocking, unnecessary and untimely manner.

How many more tragic deaths are we going to see before residential services for people with learning disability are going to change?  We need to see at the heart of  service culture an ability to really listen , put the views of the patient at the heart of planning and see the families as key partners. Sometimes I think people see listening as a ‘soft issue’. Other things get measured but does the quality of listening ever get measured? It should because in my view it is a critical patient safety issue.

Over the last few years I have had the privileged of working with a diverse group of people with a range of communication support needs. They have developed an interactive workbook for NHS Education Scotland. They share their experiences of contact with services to help staff understand how to improve communication and listening skills. They created 10 vision statements for staff of the things that were key to them. They told powerful personal stories to illustrate those statements. The stories illustrate both good and bad practice. You can download the free resource at .

Listening to people what strikes me time and time again is the lottery of service delivery. There are some great stories where people have received quality treatment and interaction but that is not universal for there are stories where you are left questioning the compassion and humanity of staff in so called ‘caring’ roles. The question for all of us is how we shift the culture so that we can all experience a person centred and listening health service. I hope the energy and impetus of #107 campaign ignites the flame of change so that ‘all dudes’ gets a safe and quality service. If you want to join the campaign then please follow @justiceforLB .