The College has been running a five-day residential course for trainers from Guide Dogs for the Blind on wheelchair mobility.
Guide Dogs has called on the resources of Specialist Rehabilitation Officers from Henshaws’ Therapy, Educational and Sensory Support services, based at the College in Harrogate, who not only have in-depth knowledge of Visual Impairment (VI) but also, because the College caters for students with a wide range of disabilities, have been able to share their expertise on the needs of VI wheelchair users with Guide Dogs.
The new course follows on from the success of other courses hosted by Henshaws to address the needs of visually-impaired people who also use manual and powered wheelchairs, to enable Guide Dogs to provide suitable training for both their service users and the dogs.
An increasing number of Guide Dog applicants are essential wheelchair users and Guide Dogs wanted to increase their own staff’s knowledge of how to work successfully with them, covering issues such as developing the coordination to hold the guide dog’s harness and respond to feedback whilst also travelling safely in a wheelchair.
The training was delivered by a range of Henshaws specialist staff including occupational therapists and physiotherapists from the multidisciplinary Therapy, Educational and Sensory Support team and covered a wide range of issues, such as health and safety, risk assessment, physical considerations and accessing buses and taxis.
Attendees were given the opportunity to experience using both manual and powered wheelchairs, while Transdev provided a bus and Blueline a taxi to enable access to be covered.
Additional Needs Manager from Guide Dogs Lee Stanway said:
Since we started training with Henshaws more than four years ago, we have seen almost 30 of our staff complete this award-winning programme. Our aim is to train at least one member of each of our 20 mobility teams across the UK and Northern Ireland and we are well on the way.
Our staff complete the programme invigorated and enthused. This is largely due to the person-centred approach that Henshaws takes and the time the team have taken to recognise the experience of our staff and build upon it.
Henshaws is a stand-out organisation with an open approach to sharing information and expertise, a desire to work together and learn from others and strive to improve and develop. What we have learnt from this programme has enabled our staff to have a direct impact on people’s lives and has been life-changing for some of those Guide Dogs supports.
Henshaws College Principal Angela North said:
I am delighted that we have continued our relationship with Guide Dogs as it is essential that organisations such as ours should share best practice.
Our heartfelt thanks, too, to Transdev and Blueline for helping to make this a ‘real’ experience for the Guide Dogs trainers.
Henshaws College is North Yorkshire’s only specialist college for students with educational support needs and disabilities. With a strong reputation for supporting those with a visual impairment, Henshaws now provides wide-ranging opportunities for students and the community with a variety of disabilities, including sensory impairments, autistic spectrum conditions, physical disabilities, moderate to severe learning disabilities and healthcare needs.