Wokingham Borough Council’s Sensory Needs Service (SNS) has delivered its first sensory awareness training session to Flair, a provider of communication support workers for the borough’s sensory needs residents.
The first training session took place virtually and lasted two hours. Flair’s sensory support workers were trained on how to provide support, promote independence, and assist with sight, dual sensory and hearing loss (D/deaf) guidance for people with sensory needs.
Tactics to aid communication for sensory needs residents included speaking clearly – rephrasing, repeating, and clarifying words, writing down messages, pointing, gently tapping the hand for attention, and other forms of tactile communication such as deafblind manual.
Navigation tactics included describing the environment around an individual, for example informing them if the ground is uneven, detailing their surroundings and notifying if there is a hazard ahead. Flair’s communication support workers were also encouraged to ensure the environment is suitable to meet their needs such as lighting and being aware of environmental noise which could impact a person’s ability to achieve successful communication.
Executive member for adult social care and public health, Cllr Charles Margetts said: “Sensory needs can affect a person’s wellbeing with people feeling withdrawn and isolated from social interactivity, resulting in embarrassment and loss of independence. At Wokingham Borough Council, we want to provide our partners with efficient, effective and valuable training to enable their support workers to assist sensory needs residents in day-to-day activities. By doing so, residents will feel a sense of belonging, more included within society, whilst also promoting their independence.”
In the UK, one in six people experience hearing loss, with approximately 8.5 million hard of hearing. Whilst there are approximately two million with sight loss in the UK.
It is hoped that the council can deliver the sensory awareness training programme to other providers in the borough.
The Sensory Needs Service will continue to offer training to providers of sensory support in the hope to build a pool of appropriately trained sensory support workers within the Wokingham Borough. The training includes a two-hour classroom session covering ‘the role of a sensory support worker’ and a ‘sighted guide’ session which provides the practical skills required. This session takes place in Bracknell Town Centre to make use of their many facilities including lifts, escalators, shops, toilets, coffee shops and wide-open spaces. This enables the participants to cover a wide range of environmental factors to take into consideration when guiding someone with a sensory loss.
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