Bolton's NHS health trust has launched a new neurodiversity toolkit which aims to empower and support staff.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust has launched its very first neurodiversity toolkit to support colleagues in the workplace in another step to making the organisation the most inclusive place it can be.

The toolkit features a guide to starting conversations around neurodiversity and how reasonable adjustments can be made to working environments to ensure every member of staff is empowered in their role.

According to the trust, hospitals and healthcare settings can be a challenging place for neurodivergent staff due to the design of buildings and environments, the processes and systems that are used, and sometimes the nature of the service.

It is estimated one in seven people are neurodivergent, meaning they may think, communicate, process, and interpret information differently to neurotypical people.

Speaking about the new toolkit, Toria King, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We recognise the invaluable contributions of our neurodivergent staff.

“Their unique perspectives and talents not only enrich our workplace but also enhance the quality of care we provide to our diverse patient community.

“By understanding the barriers that some of our staff may face, we can start to remove them so that they can come to work and thrive as themselves, without needing to 'mask' who they are.”

Some examples of neurodivergent conditions that the toolkit covers are:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Tourette’s syndrome

The trust has also launched a brand-new colleague support group where neurodivergent colleagues and family members of those who are neurodivergent can share advice and support others who understand their situation.

On Wednesday, November 29, the first group session saw more than 30 members of staff, made up of neurodivergent staff, managers, and parents, come together to talk about access to work, adjustments that can and should be made, accessing resources, and what more can be done to boost support.

Sean Griffiths, plaster technician at the trust, said: “It was great to see so many people attend the launch off our new network, hopefully we can help staff and also help our patients and family members.

“It was such a great feeling being able to speak with everyone and hopefully we can work together to make people’s lives that little bit better.”

Jessica Cooke, enhanced care and support team specialist coordinator at the trust, said: “It’s nice to feel you are not alone working in an acute hospital setting having other colleagues who are also neurodivergent.

“Through this group we’ll be able to gain insight and raise awareness of what support is available and learning from each other on how to approach topics within the workplace and how we all have felt using our past experiences.

“It’s important to understand that staff members who are neurodivergent can still maintain high standards and get to the end goal in their work, but that their methods and approaches may differ from other staff members, but this should be celebrated.”

The group will aim to meet face-to-face each month, and a new virtual channel will be set up for staff to keep in touch.

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