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RRN Conference 2022 – Working Together to Change Culture: reducing restraint in health, social care, and education.

Our annual Restraint Reduction Network conference was held in Birmingham last week, bringing together people with lived experience, family carers, practitioners and professionals united in our mission to change culture and reduce the use of restrictive practices.

The voice of lived experience was prominent throughout this year’s conference, and 50% of our speakers were people with lived experience. These powerful presentations and practical workshops demonstrated the vital role that lived experience plays in transforming our approaches and shaping our systems.

Day 1 of the conference featured a panel session on Building the Right Support: what do we need to do to create therapeutic environments in which people can thrive.

Chaired by David O’Brien, RRN Co-chair and Senior Improvement Manager, Learning Disability Improvement and Cymru Public Health Wales, the panel explored issues relating to workplace culture and the imbalance of power within services as well as the importance of love and connection across all settings.

The panel included:

  • Alexis Quinn, Restraint Reduction Network Manager
  • Charlie McMillan, Chief Executive, SCLD
  • Professor Robin Miller, School of Social Policy & Joint Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Integrated Care, University of Birmingham
  • Sharon Clarke, Expert by experience
  • Liz Durrant, Head of Quality Transformation (Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism) Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism and Specialised Commissioning Teams, NHS England
  • Debbie Ivanova, Director for People with a learning disability and autistic people, Care Quality Commission
  • Oliver Lewis, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Throughout the session, key themes were identified including fair pay and adequate training for staff, improved community provisions, better leadership, the importance of co-production and, autonomy and agency power for people with lived experience.

The panel warned that the current system does not work, as it is designed to ‘other’ people with learning disabilities and/or autism. In order to create a therapeutic environment, practitioners, professionals, people with lived experience, and family carers need to work collaboratively. Working together will help to create a society which respects and protects people’s human rights,and reduce the use of restrictive practices.

The RRN Conference explored wider topics over the two-day event, including the following sessions:

  • Co-production… It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it with Lisa Clark, Samantha Jamieson, Toni Ann Wood, Sunderland People First and Andrew Smith, Mary Bottomley, Katie Needham, Sheffield Voices
  • EHRC – School restraint inquiry – progress in England and Wales with Jonathan Timbers, Equality and Human Rights Commission
  • Inequalities and restraint with Aji Lewis, Mother of Seni Lewis, campaigner, The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 (Seni’s Law)
  • Resilient workplaces: At the nexus of culture change with Cynthia Delgado Nurse Manager and Honorary Lecturer, Sydney Local Health District and University of Sydney, Australia
  • Exploring how Harry’s Law can change culture with Deirdre Shakespeare, Founder, Harry’s Law Northern Ireland Restraint & Seclusion in Schools, and Dr Patricia O’Lynn, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Northern Ireland

Delegates both in-person and online were engaged in lively debate and conversation throughout the two days. Comments included:

“Let’s start celebrating people’s differences like some other cultures do. Society needs to stop viewing people as the problem and start valuing all humans for their differences.”

“People with learning disabilities would not end up in hospital if we had the right support in the first place, society needs to support us.”

“We need to think about the strengths of the individuals we are caring for rather than focusing on the negatives.”

“Love is the key ingredient. This is what will change the way we care for people.”

We would like to say a huge thank you to our fantastic speakers and workshop hosts and to all our delegates for making this year’s RRN Conference our best yet. We look forward to seeing you again in 2023. Subscribe to the RRN Newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear when early bird tickets go on sale.