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16 / 6 / 2015 8.09am

Partnership with CHANGE, Inclusion North, NHS England Learning Disability Engagement Team, and the Improving Lives Team

'NHS England has recently piloted an accessible approach to recruitment to enable more people with learning disabilities to apply to work with us. Four people with learning disabilities will be starting roles in early summer 2015, working in a co-worker model.'

Learning Disability Engagement Team

NHS England’s new learning disability engagement team will help ensure that people with learning disabilities have a strong voice in NHS England. The whole team is made up of six people: a public engagement manager, four learning disability network managers and a business support assistant. NHS England will use the co-worker model in this team, where one person with a learning disability works in parallel with one person without, giving a complementary combination of strengths and experience. The posts have been created as Agenda for Change band six fixed term appointments. The team as a whole will use a combination of lived experience, subject matter expertise and a passion to make a difference in healthcare for people with learning disabilities.  

One of the team’s first tasks will be developing a network of people with learning disabilities, autism, family carers and their advocates who can work closely with NHS England on all aspects of its work relating to learning disabilities. The engagement team will also raise awareness within NHS England about the rights of people with learning disabilities and the best ways of working with them.

Improving Lives Team

The improving lives team (ILT) continues to review the care of those in hospital where situations are of concern. The broader work of the best care now team is also incorporated and is developing the policy and integration of care and treatment reviews (CTRs) on a national basis. The ILT is recruiting two people to work across both work strands. 

The roles will encompass carrying out individual reviews of people in services, and also acting as an ambassador for incorporating CTRs into business as usual. The role will include the development of training for expert hubs nationally, supporting NHS England regionally in the development of CTRs and representing the teams at various listening and learning events.

How we did it

  • NHS England piloted an accessible approach to recruitment for these posts including developing a mapping tool to enable key competencies to be mapped against Agenda for Change criteria, and the development of easy read versions of the job description, person specification and application form. 
  • The posts were promoted widely through networks of people with learning disabilities, autism, family carers and advocates and through voluntary sector networks. In addition to NHS Jobs, the NHS England website was used to enable us to share accessible versions of the materials.
  • Applications were shortlisted and candidates invited for interview. For the engagement team posts the interview day involved both a panel interview and a group activity with other candidates.
  • Easy Read templates of a range of documents were produced including invitation to interview letters and offer letters as well as a more accessible approach to the pre-employment checks.
  • NHS England is working with partners to develop and pilot a more accessible induction process. An accessible induction pack is being developed alongside accessible versions of key organisational policies. A working group has been established to lead on this work. Our new learning disability engagement team will join this group once they are in post.
  • All our teams are supported to be the best they can be in their role. To support this we are working with external partners and experts. Each employee will have a peer mentor, which will be someone with a learning disability who is employed elsewhere in a similar role.
  • Teams within NHS England will receive training about how to make information accessible and how to think about ensuring that our working environment is accessible. 
  • Working with partners is a fundamental part of our approach. We have worked with CHANGE, a leading human rights organisation, to develop our recruitment process and accessible application materials. We were also supported by our colleagues at Inclusion North who provided advice and support in developing the interview process.

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