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Meet our Learning Disability Ambassadors

makaton signs
24 June 2022

Here at Sheffield Children’s we support many children and young people with learning disabilities. Our support comes in different forms, and today we would like to introduce you to some of our Learning Disability Ambassadors.

Learning Disability Ambassadors are designated staff members who develop resources and initiatives to support children and young people with learning disabilities who visit Sheffield Children’s. This is what some of them have been working on so far:

On Ward 3, Senior Clinical Support Worker Lauren has made Makaton cards for staff on the ward to easily carry round with them. The symbols on the cards – such as nurse, doctor or toilet – provide extra information about what you’re saying and help children and young people communicate. Lauren has also created images which help to explain procedures such as having a cannula, PEG feeding tube or NG tube fitted.

At our Clinical Research Facility, Research Officer Laura has introduced a sensory toybox and supportive measures such as play sessions before treatment and having the same team members at each appointment, which helps to create a more familiar environment.

At our COVID swabbing pod, Clinical Support Worker Julie makes reasonable adjustments to improve children and young people’s experience. Having a COVID test can be a particularly distressing experience for a young person with sensory processing difficulties, so measures such as allowing extra time for appointments help staff to understand individual needs and support strategies. Julie has also introduced toys and colouring sheets to support and distract children during their visit.

Our Learning Disability Ambassadors in the Emergency Department have made visual communication aids for treatment rooms, and our Allergy Team have also developed resources, called social stories, to support children and young people with learning disabilities and autism access food challenges.

learning disability ambassador

To help make sure all our staff know how best to care for patients with learning disabilities or autism, we have developed a hospital passport. This passport is available to download from our website, and explains any additional needs that a child or young person visiting Sheffield Children’s might have. You can find out more about the passport and other support available on our website here:

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