Whitehaven Respite Unit has achieved a ‘first’ for its use of signs and symbols to help people communicate.
The Whitehead centre received the Makaton Friendly Award for its outstanding work and good practice in the use of Makaton.
Makaton is a language programme designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.
Whitehaven, which is a facility for children and young people with learning disabilities, has a full Makaton programme. This includes pictures and symbols throughout the unit, weekly staff meetings dedicating 15 minutes to signing and handover shifts where staff include Makaton signing and communication packages tailored for each child or young adult.
Staff, schools, parents and carers are all working together to make sure that signs and symbols are being used correctly.
Grant Wetherall, senior social worker Northern Health and Social Care Trust and Makaton regional tutor, said: “Well done to Lynne Campbell, team manager, Bernie Taylor, team leader, and her staff in working so hard to achieve such a high standard and receiving this award. It clearly shows how dedicated the team have been over the past 16 months.
“It was a pleasure to work with such a committed staff team who were so enthusiastic about the Makaton programme. This can only be good for the children and families you serve.”
This is only the ninth such award to be presented in Northern Ireland and it is the first Makaton Friendly Award to be presented to any respite unit within the five health and social care trusts.
Of the other eight awards, seven have been presented to the voluntary sector and one to an adult centre in the Southern Trust. It is also the very first Makaton award given to any department within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.